An international team of journalists has obtained what it's referring to as "biggest leak in history": A 2.6-terabyte stash of data about offshore savings and tax havens from Panama-based legal firm Mossack Fonseca. It's claimed that 370 reporters from 100 different media organisations have worked on the project — being referred to as the Panama Papers — over the last year, which has now been published with some fanfare by The Guardian and German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung. The 2.6 terabytes of data are made up of over 11.5 million files, which makes it a far bigger leak than the diplomatic cables uncovered by WikiLeaks in 2010 or the stash of NSA documents released by Edward Snowden in 2013. It's not yet clear how the documents were made available to journalists.
Within the files lurk all kinds of revelations, many of which will come to light over the course of the coming weeks as the news organisation involved in the project publish a series of reports. But at the time of writing, The Guardian has published a series of articles which describe:
- Details about a web of offshore deals and loans worth $US2 billion that link back to Russian president Vladimir Putin and his closest acquaintances.
- Iceland's Prime Minister's undeclared stakes in offshore company, which may lead to a snap election in the country.
- How members of FIFA's ethics committee were more closely linked with corruption than previously thought.
The data itself comes from Mossack Fonseca, a law firm that's based in Panama. It manages offshore firms provides financial services, and is, according the The Guardian, the fourth biggest offshore services provider in the world. In a response to the leak, the company declined to discuss individual clients, but did write that its "services are regulated on multiple levels, often by overlapping agencies, and we have a strong compliance record", adding that they are "responsible members of the global financial and business community".
Image by Matthew Straubmuller