The trove of 11.5 million documents from Panama-based lawfirm Mossack Fonseca was obtained from an anonymous source by Germany’s “Süddeutsche Zeitung” newspaper.
The documents, dubbed the “Panama Papers,” show how the company helped its clients evade tax and launder money. The files also link current and former leaders, including Egyptian autocrat Hosni Mubarak, Libya’s former leader Moammar Gadhafi, and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, to illicit financial dealings.
The daily Süddeutsche shared the unprecedented leak with the Washington-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and other news outlets, including the BBC and “The Guardian.” Their findings were published Sunday after a year-long investigation into the documents.
“2.6 terabytes of data, 11.5 millions documents, and 214,000 shell companies: The Panama Papers are the largest data leak journalists have ever worked with,” Süddeutsche tweeted. […]
— Süddeutsche Zeitung (@SZ) April 3, 2016
The papers reveal that around 140 politicians from around the world have been using offshore tax havens – among them 12 national leaders. Other individuals mentioned in the files included drug traffickers, celebrities and sports stars.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, Iceland’s prime minister, Sigmundur Davíð; Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif; and Alaa Mubarak, the son of Egypt’s former president, are all known to have offshore wealth. Russian President Vladimir Putin isn’t mentioned in the documents, but the ICIJ said his associates “secretly shuffled as much as $2 billion (1.7 billion euros) through banks and shadow companies.”
The files also reveal that the families of at least eight current and former members of China’s supreme ruling body, including President Xi Jinping’s brother-in-law, have been found to have hidden wealth.
The name of soccer player Lionel Messi also makes an appearance in connection with a shell company he owned with his father in Panama.