Panama Papers: what it is and who’s involved

Panama Papers is the name of legal documents leaked to the press, relating to the financial dealings of the rich and famous – all undertaken by Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca.

What’s it about?

  1. It’s the biggest data journalism story ever.
    11.5 million documents were received by German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung, and shared with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ). The ICIJ worked with journalists from over 100 media organisations, including The Guardian, to analyse the documents over the space of a year.
  2. It’s much, MUCH bigger than Wikileaks.
    The amount of data leaked here reached over 2TB – compared to 1.7GB in the Wikileaks scandal.

  3. It’s about files leaked which show money laundering and tax avoidance.
    There are legitimate ways of using tax havens such as Panama, but most of what has been happening here is about hiding true owners of money, the origins of the money and avoiding paying tax on the money.

Who’s involved?

  1. Vladimir Putin.
    The Russian President is reportedly involved (via close associates) in a  money laundering ring running into the billions of dollars.
  2. FIFA.
    An ethics lawyer for FIFA, Juan Pedro Damiani of Uruguay, is being internally investigated for links with Eugenio Figueredo – an allegedly corrupt football official. This comes just six weeks after Gianni Infantino took over as president and vowed to clean up the organisation.
  3. Lord Ashcroft and other Tories.
    You might be familiar with the name Lord Ashcroft – he published an unauthorised biography of the Prime Minister, with some explicit details involving pigs. Lord Ashcroft, as well as senior Tory peers and former Conservative MPs are implicated.
  4. David Cameron’s late father.
    Ian Cameron ran an offshore fund which avoided paying tax in Britain by hiring Bahamas residents – including a bishop – to sign paperwork. The fund, Blairmore Holdings Inc, managed funds for the wealthy, including Leopold Joseph – a private bank used by the Rolling Stones. The Guardian says it has confirmed that “in 30 years Blairmore has never paid a penny of tax in the UK on its profits”.
    The Prime Minister – who is not specifically named in the papers – is yet to personally comment, but Downing Street says investments made by Ian Cameron are a “private matter”.
  5. Lionel Messi.
    Messi and his father, Jorge Horacio, were the ultimate beneficial owners of a Mossack Fonseca-registered company, called Mega Star Enterprises, set up in 2012. The Guardian reports that both are currently on trial in Spain for tax evasion.

All information was correct at the time of publication – but this is a breaking story.

Jessica Allen

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