On Sunday, an anonymous source provided the German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung with more than 11 million stolen documents associated with Panama-based law firm, Mossack Fonseca & Co. The papers, which were then shared with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), have been linked to 12 current or former heads of state, at least 60 were linked to world leaders, 128 to other politicians and public officials as well as other high profile individuals and trace back more than 40 years of day-to-day business within the firm. Deemed the “Panama Papers,” these newly released documents detail offshore accounts and shell companies, providing evidence that the law firm helped its clients launder money, dodge taxes and escape sanctions. Also, while the source of the information currently remains unknown, an official statement by Mossack Fonseca & Co., claims that while they may have suffered a data breach within their email server, they have not done anything illegal over the past 40 years of doing business. Additionally, Mossack Fonseca & Co., claim the information published contain inaccuracies and many of those involved in the documents have never been clients of the firm. The law firm, which maintains its innocence, has released an official response which can be found here.
While more information will surely surface in the upcoming days, much of what we currently know is speculation as the public does not have access to the 2.6 terabytes of data. Nonetheless, this revelation could bring light to one of the largest accounts of tax evasion and money laundering in history. Gerard Ryle, director of ICIJ, said, “I think the leak will prove to be probably the biggest blow the offshore world has ever taken because of the extent of the documents.” Some of the figures involved in this massive breach include: friends of Vladimir Putin, members of FIFA’s ethics committee, David Cameron’s father, Lionel Messi; Prime Minister of Iceland, Sigmundur Gunnlaugsson; ex-prime minister of Iraq, Ayad Allawi and many others.