#PanamaPapers: The Rival Explains

Leaks for Weeks

NorthWest Wing | Greg LaMotte | April 4, 2016

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You’ve probably seen something called “#PanamaPapers” plastered all over your Facebook and Twitter feed. But what the hell is it? I’ll try to explain.

The Panama Papers are a massive, massive data leak of 11.5 MILLION DOCUMENTS related to the law firm Mossack Fonseca, which is notorious for creating offshore bank accounts. It’s common knowledge that rich people like to stash their cash in tiny far-away islands, so why would so much information about one company matter?

Because this information implicates some important people in some nasty biz. The leak revealed a sketchy $2 billion money trail that leads to Russian president Vladimir Putin, shady dealings among a quarter of Iceland’s cabinet members including the prime minister (who has resigned as a result of this), documents linking president of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko to offshore accounts, and much more. Now for why public officials owning offshore accounts is naughty.

This video explains it better than I ever could (TW: rape)

Basically, Mossack Fonseca helped clients who were involved in “bribery, arms deals, tax evasion, financial fraud, and drug trafficking” hide their money away and do business with no fear of repercussion. Although they aren’t directly committing these crimes, they’re making them way easier to be committed by their clients.

Still confused what an offshore account is? I was too! But this video explains it in an easy to grasp way.

So now that you (hopefully) understand the shittiness of Mossack Fonseca and the potential for illegal activity regarding offshore accounts, it’s time to explain why all this is so groundbreaking.

Only 149 documents of the 11 million leaked have been released so far.

We’ve merely gotten a taste of what’s to come. In a video, journalists of Süddeutsche Zeitung (the Munich-based newspaper that received the docs) explain that “We know exactly what we’re doing for 14 days.” This means for two weeks we are assured information as catastrophic as that released today. And that’s just what they “know exactly,” damning documents could continue to come out for months.

The information already released could affect international politics and global finance in a substantial way, and we ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

Now because this explanation could never cover all aspects of this fast-developing story, here are some key links if you feel the understandable urge to learn more.

EDIT: This article was updated to include Icelandic prime minister Sigmundur Gunnlaugsson’s resignation which occurred Tuesday April 4th.