What are the Panama Papers?

It is the single largest known data leak, reportedly surpassing WikiLeaks in 2010 and Edward Snowden’s leak in 2013. Over 2.6 terabytes of data from law firm Mossack Fonseca, containing 11.5 million confidential documents dating back 40 years, were handed over from an anonymous source who approached Süddeutsche Zeitung over a year ago.

Details of the documents have just been released to the world, following a joint investigative-journalism effort over the past year led by German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists that spanned over 78 countries.

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A storm is brewing

The Panama Papers uncover the widespread use of shell companies by influential figures. While the use of shell companies is not a new concept, nor is it illegal, conduct arising from the use of shell companies may be, including tax evasion and money laundering; this is especially interesting because of Mossack Fonseca’s clientele.

The documents have so far unveiled that Mossack Fonseca counts 29 of Forbes Top 500 billionaires, 72 current or former world leaders, FIFA officials and other influential people as their clients.

Who is Mossack Fonseca?

Mossack Fonseca is an elusive Panama-headquartered law firm, and by no means small by any calculation. It is the fourth-largest provider of offshore services in the world. Mossack Fonseca has released a public statement addressing these developments, and is steadfast in asserting that they have been compliant with international law.

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Shaun Chung

Shaun Chung

Shaun, our resident legal engineer, recently returned to us after completing a clerkship at one of Australia’s top-tier commercial law firms. He is passionate about emerging technologies, and their potential application to the legal profession.