Summary: “Panama Papers” expose secret offshore companies of politicians and public officials around the world

Washington, DC, April 3rd, 2016: The “Panama Papers” are an unprecedented leaked cache of 11.5 million financial records from the database of the world’s fourth biggest, but little-known offshore law firm, Mossack Fonseca. The investigation was carried out by SRT grantee the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung and about 370 journalists from more than 70 countries.

The investigation examined the offshore holdings of 12 current and former world leaders and the offshore financial dealings of 128 more politicians and public officials from around the world. It is not illegal to own an offshore company and many of those named in the “Panama Papers” have not used their offshore entities for wrongdoing. However, the use of offshore entities by political leaders and criminals raises questions about the impact of financial secrecy havens on national treasuries and the rule of law. ICIJ highlights, for example, a pattern of covert manoeuvres by banks, companies and associates of Russian President Vladimir Putin secretly shuffling $2 billion through banks and shadow companies, which led to Russian officials denouncing the investigation before it went public. The account holders include people and companies blacklisted by the US government with links to drug lords, terrorist organisations and rogue nations.

The ICIJ is a project of the Center for Public Integrity and a global network of investigative reporters. Gerard Ryle, director of the ICIJ, said, “This is the biggest cross-border investigation in journalism history, using a data set that is the largest of its kind”. ICIJ’s stories have triggered official inquiries, high-profile resignations and policy changes around the world.

Full details from ICIJ’s website:

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