In early 2015 an anonymous source, using the pseudonym “John Doe”, began leaking confidential documents about over 200,000 offshore companies listed by the Panamanian law firm and corporate service provider Mossack Fonseca. 11.5 million confidential documents have now been leaked to the press by “John Doe”. These documents contain detailed financial information about offshore investments, including the identities of shareholders and directors of offshore companies.
There are numerous reasons why an individual may want to set up an offshore company and most of these are entirely legal. Naturally, however, “man structures affairs sensibly” does not make the headlines and the press so far have focused on the illegal uses of offshore companies: fraud, drug trafficking, money laundering and tax evasion.
As a result of the stance taken by the press, the mere publication of the identity of an individual shown to be using an offshore structure, even if it is legitimate, could