Labelled one of the biggest leaks of data in the history of journalism, the Panama Papers offer a rare insight into how some of the world’s wealthiest and most powerful individuals use offshore corporate structures and vehicles to allegedly hide assets and avoid taxes. As the revelations place tax avoidance and transparency in the financial services industry under a global microscope, it remains to be seen whether the leak will be a catalyst for change or another footnote in history.
It began over a year ago, when an anonymous source leaked over 11.5 million encrypted internal documents from Panamanian law firm, Mossack Fonseca, to a German newspaper, Süddeutsche Zeitung.
The Süddeutsche Zeitung shared the documents with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (“ICIJ“), who began to coordinate an extensive media collaboration to analyse the data, involving more than 370 journalists from over 100 media organisations. 1
In April 2016, the ICIJ and other news outlets began to