The exhaustive list of foreign leaders and famous people exposed in a massive leak of confidential documents held by a Panamanian law firm illuminates a sprawling network of offshore investment accounts often used to make secretive investments and pad luxury lifestyles.
Expensive yachts, luxury homes in London, ownership of a candy company, investments in construction companies are just a sampling of the benefits reaped from these complex financial dealings, many of which may be entirely legal. They reveal the inner workings of the financial lives of those with wealth and power across the globe.
The swath of 11.5 million records — already known as the Panama Papers — made its way into the hands of the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung and then the U.S.-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, part of the Center for Public Integrity.
Together, the news organizations coordinated a massive onslaught of investigative reports on the revelations found in the documents.
The list of people tied to offshore activities includes about 140 politicians from more than 50 countries, including 12 current or former heads of state, with links to Panama law firm Mossack Fonesca.
“We have not once in nearly 40 years of operation been charged with criminal wrongdoing,” the law firm’s spokesman, Carlos Sousa, told McClatchy DC. “We’re proud of the work we do, notwithstanding recent and willful attempts by some to mischaracterize it.”
Mossack Fonseca director Ramon Fonseca told Reuters that his firm was the victim of targeted hacking that exposed the documents. He said the “vast majority” of the offshore companies set up by his firm were for “legitimate purposes.”
Associates of Putin, Assad and Poroshenko are among those implicated in offshore dealings.