The Panama Papers: A Quick Summary

Sounds like an Agatha Christie novel… what are “The Panama Papers”?  

Not a best-selling detective novel but full of mystery and secrecy nonetheless, the Panama Papers are 11.5 million documents leaked from the secretive Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca.  They show how the world’s powerful and wealthy “launder money, dodge sanctions, and avoid tax” (BBC 1).  Not cool.

 

How did we get a hold of them?

Some anonymous source gave them to the German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung who

released them to the ICIJ (International Consortium of Investigative Journalists) (BBC 2).  Now

you’re reading about them in the news.  We don’t know who this anonymous John Doe source is, but you can read a statement regarding his intentions, including income inequality and a lack

of transparency, here: https://panamapapers.icij.org/20160506-john-doe-statement.html#_ga=1.164154486.836406132.1459807380.

 

So who’s mentioned in them- am I?

Probably not, but that’s a good thing.  Names mentioned in the fallout of these papers include Russian President Vladimir Putin (who denies any and all corruption), Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, Argentinian President Mauricio Macri, and Icelandic Prime Minister Sigmundur

Gunnlaugsson who already resigned in the wake of this leak.  Celebrities like Simon Cowell,

Jackie Chan, Lionel Messi, and even Emma Watson have been named in these documents.

 

You can see why this is a big deal…No, I actually can’t see why this matters.

Notorious whistleblower Edward Snowden mentioned the papers on Twitter saying they are the “biggest leak in the history of data journalism,” so take his word for it.  Having offshore bank accounts isn’t illegal, but being implicated isn’t great news for you.  Tax evasion and hiding private interests is illegal, and the Panama Papers detail the “fraud and financial misconduct” of many people who wish they wouldn’t (PANAMA). Reporters are still working their way through the leaked documents (there are 11.5 million of them), so keep your eyes peeled for more interesting revelations in the near future.

 

References:

 

Q&A about the Panama Papers (BBC 1): http://www.bbc.com/news/world-35954224

 

Article about the Icelandic PM’s resignation (BBC 2): http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-

 

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The Panama Papers and ICIJ website (PANAMA): https://panamapapers.icij.org/

 

Skimm Article: http://www.theskimm.com/skimm-guides/panama- papers