A trove of leaked documents obtained by an international team of journalists (“biggest leak in history”: A 2.6-terabyte stash of data) show our so called leaders have been stealing more money than one can imagine

A huge leak of confidential tax haven documents has been leaked. The leak dubbed the Panama Papers implicates the rich and powerful and their use of tax havens. The offshore company involved in the tax haven scandal is the Mossack Fonseca Company.

Mossack Fonseca?

Mossack Fonseca is a Panama-based company whose principal obligation is to incorporate   companies that are seen in tax haven countries such as the British Virgin Islands. Other services include wealth management and clients pay a yearly fee to the company for its services. The company has been under the radar for a long time with only those that are the wealthy and powerful the ones that were well versed with the enterprise.

The company was started in 1977 and since then it has grown in stature and expanded their interests to other countries which are largely tax havens also including the Cayman Islands, Bahamas, and other notorious tax havens.  They have an extended 40 companies to help their global client base. The company is said to be the fourth largest provider of offshore companies for the rich elite and has acted for a high 300,000 companies.

Data Leak

An anonymous source began supplying the documents in question for the Panama Paper saga – dated from the 1970s to 2016- to German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung (SZ) a year ago. SZ assembled a group of media organizations, including the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), The Guardian, the BBC and Le Monde, to analyze the data, before simultaneously releasing their findings. The leak is the biggest, eclipsing the Snowden stolen data from NSA and also much more than WikiLeaks.

A reported 11.5 million documents and 2.6 terabytes of data were taken from the internal servers of Mossack Fonseca. Three hundred and The documents show links to 72 current or former heads of state in the data, including the Icelandic Prime Minister, Sigmundur Gunnlaugson, who had an undeclared interest related to his wife’s wealth and is now facing calls for his resignation. The documents also show links to many other influential people in several countries including Russia’s President Putin’s friends. The leak also covers other industries besides the political spectrum including the dogged soccer body FIFA and its members and players. As it would happen, there is quite a lot in the 2.6 terabytes.

People linked to the leak

Many influential people are being linked to the offshore accounts that are seen in the leaks. Vladimir Putin’s inner circle appears to control about $2 billion worth of overseas assets. The Prime Minister of Iceland secretly owned the debt of failed Icelandic banks while he was involved in political negotiations over their fate.

The family of Pakistan’s prime minister owns millions of dollars’ worth of real estate via offshore accounts.

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Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko pledged to sell his Ukrainian business interests during his campaign but appears instead to have transferred them to an offshore company he controls.

The issue goes on further with the soccer governing body members also implicated in the data leaks. The big names involved in the data leak are:

  • Argentine President Mauricio Macri and his father were implicated
  • Iceland Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugson and his wife.
  • Saudi Arabia’s King Salman
  • U.A.E President Sheikh Khalifa
  • Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko

Other notable people indicated on the list include relatives and close associates of the Russia’s Vladimir Putin, China’s Xi Jinping, Syria’s Bashar Al Sadd and even UK Prime Minister David Cameron. The data also contains 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.

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Sports

The leaked list also indicates some athletes involved in the scandal, particularly soccer players. Affected members come from influential teams like Manchester United and Barcelona. The best player in the world right now with the highest number of Ballon D’ors, Lionel Messi, and his father are implicated. The Barcelona star, a five-time world player of the year, is already under indictment in Spain on charges that he and his father, Jorge Horacio Messi, used offshore companies in Belize and Uruguay to stiff the government out of millions of dollars in taxes.

The leaked documents show that Messi and his father owned yet another offshore company in Panama which is Mega Star Enterprises.

The first reference to the company in Mossack Fonseca’s files came on June 13, 2013 – one day after Spanish prosecutors first filed tax fraud charges against Messi and his father. An email indicated that responsibility for handling the company’s paperwork was being transferred to Mossack Fonseca from another offshore corporate agent.

However, the first reference that linked Messi and his father to the company in the files to came less than two weeks later, on June 23rd, 2013. Through his father, Messi, however, declined to comment on this story   preferring to keep silent on the matter. The leaks massively current and former soccer players compared to any other sport but does, however, have some other sports.

The implications on FIFA show that a law firm of the FIFA ethics committee had business relations with three indicted man in the ongoing corruption reports on FIFA. Juan Pedro Damiani is seen in the files as one who was the member of the Ethics Committee while he had dealt with three FIFA executives who were under investigation.

Similarities to WikiLeaks

The leak is being said to be the same with that of WikiLeaks though this one is surely on a higher level than that. The trove of data that is implicated in this case and the number of people involved shows the effort that went into finding the exact details for this case.

Mossack Fonseca statements

The company involved Mossack Fonseca flatly denied any wrongdoing and said that they had always acted with the authorities and that they had robust due diligence procedures. The most recent data indicated in the leaked documents is in December 2015 therefore, this shows that the data is near live. The company mentioned that their ‘services are regulated on multiple levels, often overlapping agencies, and we have a strong compliance record; we are responsible members of the global and financial and business community.’

The company goes on to say, “If we detect suspicious activity or misconduct, we are quick to report it to the authorities,” it said. “Similarly, when officials approach us with evidence of possible misconduct, we always cooperate fully with them.

Ali Raza

Ali is a freelance journalist, having 5 years of experience in web journalism and marketing. He contributes to various online publications. With a master degree, now he combines his passions for writing about internet security and technology. When he is not working, he loves traveling and playing games.