A year-long investigation by global journalists has revealed how a shady network of rich and powerful world leaders use offshore tax havens to hide their vast wealth, launder money, dodge sanctions and evade taxes despite legal requirements in place that should prevent exactly those things from occurring.
Dubbed the Panama Papers, a cache of 11 million internal documents — 2.6 terabytes worth — from Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca shine a light on secret offshore holdings from 128 politicians and public officials across the globe, including 12 current and former world leaders.
Dealing in offshore business is not illegal. Eastern Europe’s elite have for years used them to keep their assets out of reach of company raiders, for example. But the use of offshore tax havens in the manner and to the extent the Panama Papers shows by heads of state and top officials raises serious questions.
The files expose how associates of Russian President Vladimir Putin secretly shuffled as much as $2 billion through banks and shadow companies at his behest. They highlight how Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko increased his wealth after being elected in 2014 and while his soldiers were dying in eastern Ukraine. They also show secret offshore companies linked to the families and associates of Egypt’s former president Hosni Mubarak, Libya’s former leader Muammar Gaddafi and Syria’s president Bashar al-Assad.They reveal others controlled by the prime ministers of Iceland and Pakistan, the king of Saudi Arabia and the children of the Azerbaijan’s president.
This video by ICIJ via YouTube, explains the investigation. ICIJ (International Consortium of Investigative Journalists) is an active global network of 185 reporters in more than 65 countries who collaborate on in-depth investigations.