The Panama Papers: What You Need to Know
Now the largest data leak in history, The Panama Papers are a group of documents leaked from a law firm in Panama called Mossack Fonseca. These documents contain information on how the world’s most elite and powerful hide their money in offshore tax haven accounts.
The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and an international alliance of more than 107 various media outlets in 78 different countries sorted through the large collection of leaked documents, which were released to them by an anonymous source. Their findings include the unveiling of a network of corruption among many of the world’s most influential people, including over 140 politicians.
One of the politicians involved is Russian President Vladimir Putin. The files suggest that he may be involved in a money laundering ring tied to at least $2 billion. Iceland’s Prime Minister, Sigmundur Gunnlaugsson, has now resigned due to the large leak. Football’s governing body, FIFA, is also among those involved in the scandal.
Karen G. Acosta, a recent ENMU graduate with a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA), gave her opinion on the leaked scandal.
“[The Panama Papers] make me believe that people with a lot of money go to great lengths to keep their money, even if it is illegal. I think that the reason events like people hiding money or laundering money keep happening is because there aren't any real consequences; or there are, but they are not brutal enough. Money laundering has been happening for a long time, and I honestly think that people with power get a slap on the hand for what they do. People with money and power get away with a lot of their bad actions. Maybe this will be a step toward some change in the consequences they receive,” said Acosta.
On Monday, April 4, 2016, the U.S. Department of Justice stated that it was in the process of reviewing the 2.6 terabytes of leaked data to see if there has been any illegal violation of the law.
On the same day, Mossack Fonseca released a statement regarding the massive data leak.
"Our industry is not particularly well understood by the public, and unfortunately this series of articles will only serve to deepen that confusion. The facts are these: while we may have been the victim of a data breach, nothing we've seen in this illegally obtained cache of documents suggests we've done anything illegal, and that's very much in keeping with the global reputation we've built over the past 40 years of doing business the right way, right here in Panama. Obviously, no one likes to have their property stolen, and we intend to do whatever we can to ensure the guilty parties are brought to justice.”
The law firm then added:
"But in the meantime, our plan is to continue to serve our clients, stand behind our people, and support the local communities in which we have the privilege to work all over the world, just as we've done for nearly four decades."
According to a USA Today article published on Tuesday, April 5, 2016, the leak includes “emails, financial spreadsheets, passport information, and corporate records from 1977 through to the end of 2015.”
Bank statements, invoices, and other legal documents are also among the leaked information uncovering the secret offshore activities of these individuals.