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The Panama Papers incident saw the leak of 11.5m files from the database of the world’s fourth biggest offshore law firm, Mossack Fonseca. The records were obtained from an anonymous source by the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, which shared them with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ). The ICIJ then shared them with a large network of international partners, including the Guardian and the BBC. The documents show the myriad ways in which the rich exploit secretive offshore tax regimes

The story had a global impact, not only in media terms - with the story winning the Pulitzer Prize earlier this year - but also politically. Iceland’s prime minister Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson, resigned and demonstrations were held in Argentina. 

In China, censors blocked the words “Panama Papers” and in Russia, Putin’s oldest friend, the cellist Sergei Roldugin, had about $2bn flowing into a network of British Virgin Islands companies. The founders of the Panamanian law firm, Jürgen Mossack and Ramón Fonseca, were arrested in February 2017.

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Why Atlas Consultant, Ed Gavaghan, chose this moment...

The Panama Papers revealed the extent to which offshore tax havens are used by the top 1% to evade national and international tax regimes. Over 143 politicians, including Vladimir Putin and David Cameron, and 214,500 companies in 21 offshore jurisdictions were found to have used these services.

The significance of the Papers and the timing of their publication cannot be underestimated. The leak crystallised and embedded a growing disconnect between a global elite and a disenfranchised underclass.

 

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