On March 9th, 2016, employees of Mossack Fonseca, a Panamanian law firm that for decades had kept the financial secrets of global celebrities, oligarchs and criminals, made a stomach-churning discovery. Someone had copied huge amounts of data from its computers.
Emails, contracts, banking statements – 11.5 million documents of the firm’s most sensitive client records, a staggering 2.6 terabytes of data – had been taken.
Suddenly, the day-to-day business of setting up shell companies in tax havens was no longer the priority. Instead, newly obtained Mossack Fonseca documents show, employees began working furiously on a new mission: find out who its clients were.
As a key player in the world of offshore finance, Mossack Fonseca had for years flouted rules requiring lawyers and other offshore specialists to identify and verify their clients, requirements designed to prevent aiding criminal activity.
Over the next weeks and months, newly leaked documents show,