2.6 terabytes of data, 11.5 millions documents, and 214,000 shell companies : This is mega Panama data breach
A serious server hack at Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca has led to the biggest information breach in recent years, with the release of of 2.6TB of data relating to some of the most powerful people in the world.
The leak belongs to a small, relatively unknown Panamanian law firm called Mossack Fonseca, which shows a global network of offshore companies helping the wealthy launder money, dodge sanctions and evade tax.
Panama’s government has promised to “vigorously cooperate” with any legal probe that might be launched in the wake of the “Panama Papers” data leak.
“The Panamanian government will vigorously cooperate with any request or assistance necessary in the event of any legal action occurring,” it said in a statement.
According to DR Nyheder, two Danish banks have been named in the ‘Panama Papers’, which since being released over the weekend have already been described by observers as the most comprehensive leak in history.
The Panama Papers, which leaked some 11.5 million documents from the Panamanian tax solutions firm Mossack Fonseca details the offshore holdings of a dozen current and former world leaders, as well as businessmen, criminals, celebrities and sports stars.
Gerard Ryle, director of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), said the documents covered the day-to-day business at Mossack Fonseca over the past 40 years.
“I think the leak will prove to be probably the biggest blow the offshore world has ever taken because of the extent of the documents,” he said.
Based on revelations from the Panama Papers are pieces on Vladimir Putin’s $1 billion in offshore holdings; the Prime Minister of Iceland’s shady dealings with a private company, which served as a tax haven for his private wealth; and no corruption scandal would be complete without mentioning international soccer’s governing body, FIFA, whose members also appear in the documents.
It also showed that Jyske Bank and the Nordic financial institution Nordea have assisted their customers’ efforts in opening and maintaining secretive companies in tax havens.
Reportedly, Nordea has been named in over 10,000 documents and emails, which disclose that the bank helped its customers purchase and maintain straw-man companies and permits with Mossack Fonseca.
“I am shocked that Nordea has known that they are making these straw-man companies and that they are making them for shadow companies,” Lars Kock, a tax haven expert who is the political head of Ibis, told DR Nyheder.
“There is no doubt they know what they are doing. They are taking part in tax evasion and I didn’t think Nordea was capable of that.”
German newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung, which received the leak, gives a thorough explanation of the methodology the corporate media used to search the files. The main search they have done is for names associated with breaking UN sanctions regimes. The Guardian reports this too and helpfully lists those countries as Zimbabwe, North Korea, Russia and Syria. The cleaning of this Mossack Fonseca information by the corporate media follows a direct western governmental agenda. There is no mention at all of use of Mossack Fonseca by massive western corporations or western billionaires – the main customers. And the Guardian is quick to reassure that “much of the leaked material will remain private.”
According to the story in the Suddeutsche Zeitung on the history of the Panama Papers’ leak, German authorities had known about the connection between Mossack Fonseca and some criminal elements for at least two years. Also, a whistleblower at the firm had sold information to the authorities.
“The sheer number of people involved is becoming clear to us,” says Frederik Obermaier, from the Suddeutsche Zeitung’s investigative group. “There are dictators, members of the Japanese Yakuza mafia, the Sicilian mafia, the Russian mafia, weapons dealers, drug dealers, and pedophiles. You start to feel a little nervous when you realize this one leak is going to expose all of them… and that it all started at the Suddeutsche Zeitung.”
The leak includes names of who’s who from almost every country in the world and could raise the same kind of furore as Snowden leaks of 2013.