(CNN) – The panama papers is a leak of documents out of a panama based law firm. This is the largest leak of private data ever. Here is what you need to know.
The panama papers are documents allegedly leaked from the panama-based law firm, Mossack Fonseca. The documents were leaked by an anonymous source to a German newspaper, Sueddeutsche Zeitung. The German newspaper then sent the documents to the international consortium of investigative journalists, also known as the ICIJ. The ICIJ then cultivated a huge team of journalists around the world to pour over the documents.
The leak of the panama papers is huge. It’s the largest leak of information ever. It’s bigger than WikiLeaks and Snowden combined. The leak consists of 11.5 million files. The law firm’s co-founder Ramon Fonseca, says the information is false and full of inaccuracies. It involves more than 14,000 companies and hundreds of leaders, politicians, and others from around the world who’ve been using offshore tax havens.
Mossack Fonseca is the fourth-largest law firm for offshore services, providing the means for wealthy corporations and individuals to create shell companies in tax havens. A 2015 audit found that Mossack Fonseca knew the real identities of just 1% of the companies it had incorporated.
Holding offshore accounts is legal, but they’re also used for illegal tax avoidance schemes. The panama papers reveal alleged links to bribery, arms deals, tax evasion, and financial fraud.
Mossack Fonseca has stated, “the facts are these: while we may have been the victim of a data breach, nothing we’ve seen in this illegally obtained cache of documents suggests we’ve done anything illegal”
Countries all over the world are conducting investigations as they seek more information about the panama papers.