On April 3, 2016, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, in partnership with a number of news organizations, announced that it had received a leaked trove of 11.5 million documents from the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonesca. Dubbed the “Panama Papers,” leak, the ICIJ documented how the wealthy and the powerful used Mossack Fonesca to move money around the world of tax havens and, at least sometimes, to hide it from their countries’ revenue agencies.
Originally, the ICIJ declined to make its data available, even to governments.[fn1] It explained that it is:
an investigative journalism organization and, as such, we report stories that are in the public interest. The Panama Papers expose significant systemic failures inside the offshore economy. They reveal how politicians, banks, criminals and sports celebrities have taken advantage of the secrecy provided by tax havens and, in some cases, broken the law. Those stories and others we are pursuing serve the public interest by bringing accountability to the offshore industry – an industry that has long operated in the shadows.
Other parts of the data are of a private nature and of no interest to the public.
ICIJ will not release personal data en masse but will continue to mine the full data with its media partners.
At the same time, it promised that sometime in May it would “release the names of the more than 214,000 offshore entities incorporated by Mossack Fonseca and the people connected to them (as beneficiaries, shareholders or directors).”
Well, that day has arrived! If you’re interested, you can see the ICIJ Panama Papers database here.
I expect that various Surly bloggers will blog about the Panama Papers during the coming weeks and months. In the meantime, a couple things we’ve said up until now:
I talked to Richard Roeper on Good Day Chicago. Video is here.
Phil talked to a reporter from Tax Notes Today. If you have an online subscription, you can read the article here. If you don’t, it’s available on Lexis or Lexis Advance at 2016 TNT 88-5.
[fn1] Though governments may still be able to get their hands on the full trove of documents: the leaker has hinted that he might hand over all 11.5 million documents if he gets immunity from prosecution.