Panama Papers dropped a bombshell on Sunday when more than eleven million documents were leaked from a Panamanian law firm, Mossack Fonseca. This law firm helped numerous people launder money; evade sanctions and taxes by exploiting secretive offshore tax regimes.
The documents were obtained from a German newspaper, Süddeutsche Zeitung, which were then passed onto International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICJI). The ICJI then shared these documents with 109 different media networks in 76 different countries, including the likes of BBC, and Gaurdian.
Tax Havens of Rich Exposed by Panama Papers
There are various dignitaries, politicians, diplomats, and key figures from around the world that have been named by Panama Papers. According to the Guardian, Panama Papers has named 143 politicians involved in offshore tax evasion. The list also includes 12 national leaders from around the world as well.
The most staggering name is of Vladimir Putin as a $2 billion trail has been linked to an offshore account. Sergi Roldugin, a very close friend of Putin has been at the heart of the scheme as money from the Russian State Bank has been hidden in offshore accounts. Here is an illustration created by the Guardian regarding the data leak by Panama Papers:
Similarly, other names that have come up in the Panama Papers are of Ayad Allawi (former vice president of Iraq), Nawaz Sharif (prime minister of Pakistan), Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson (prime minister of Iceland), and Alaa Mubarak (son of Egypt’s former president). If that’s not all, British prime minister’s father was also allegedly named for tax evasion in the Panama Paper’s.
Many FIFA officials were named in owning offshore accounts. Even Lionel Messi was also named among the perpetuators for evading tax and using offshore accounts. Some stars from Bollywood and Indian real estate tycoons have also been linked to setting up tax havens offshore.
Reactions to Panama Papers Leak
Since the leak of these documents by Panama Papers, Twitter along with other social media networks has exploded with this new trend. Even Edward Snowden got into the act and tweeted this:
— Edward Snowden (@Snowden) April 3, 2016
Here is one gentlemen pointing to the obvious, there are numerous other law firms that manage offshore accounts. This is just the start of things.
Can we just remind ourselves that the #PanamaPapers are from just ONE law firm, in just ONE tax haven. Tip of the proverbial iceberg.
— Bobby Ghosh (@ghoshworld) April 3, 2016
Here are some other Twitter reactions over Panama leaks:
You don’t have to be surprised about #panamapapers, but you should understand that it’s worth reporting & being angry about.
— Luke Barratt (@lukewbarratt) April 4, 2016
The #panamapapers story is just like opening a big can of worms, politicians alike are trying to wriggle away from the truth
— Ryan Johns (@RA_Johns) April 4, 2016
How Big is the Data Leak?
The enormity of the leak certainly puts it as the largest data leak in history. This is because the leak contains 11.5 million files as almost 2.6TB worth of data was retrieved from Mossack Fonseca. When you compare this to Wiki Leaks in 2010, the leak surpasses that massively as Wiki Leaks only revealed 1.7GB worth of data.
Similarly, the leaks provided by Edward Snowden in 2013 about the notorious activities of NSA and other intellengce agencies does not compare to Panama Papers. What will be the outcome from the revelation of these new documents? We will just have to wait and see. However, this was just one law firm that maintains offshore accounts; there are hundred more so we are just being shown the tip of the iceberg.