It comes as no surprise to learn that some global leaders are involved with off shore tax havens that allow them to move money without penalties and for their own personal gain. While many global citizens are of the opinion that this is unethical and wrong, there are others such as people in Eastern Europe who view the news of the Panama Papers as fairly unexciting. If you haven't wrapped your ahead around what's going on, here's the rundown on this developing story.
The biggest leak in journalistic history - 11.5 million confidential documents associated with Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca have been released after a year long investigation involving the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ). The 2.6 terabytes of data that has been compromised is the largest in history, dwarfing the WikiLeaks of information from the U.S. diplomatic cables in 2010. German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung was the first media outlet to gain access and teamed up with ICIJ to create a global effort to investigate the data further. They have not revealed their confidential source and have stated, "The source wanted neither financial compensation nor anything else in return, apart from a few security measures."
Putin, Proshenko and the Prime Minister of Iceland - While there doesn't seem to be much noise coming from Eastern Europe, Iceland's Prime Minister, Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson, has already been put under pressure in an interview with Swedish television company SVT. The Prime Minister walked out of the interview speaking in Icelandic and claiming, "This is totally inappropriate." before leaving the room. The leaks show that associates of Vladimir Putin covertly moved $2 billion through banks and companies for the Russian leader. They also reveal that Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko became the sole shareholder of a British Virgin Islands company while Russian forces in Ilovaisk were massacring his army in 2014.
Did they break laws or not? - Dealing with off shore tax havens is not illegal and has been in practice by some of the world's elite for years in order to help protect assets from tax laws and company raids. That being said, some of what is revealed in the Panama Papers shows misuse of the law and brings questionable procedures to the limelight. The information sheds light on the money practices of 140 politicians from over 50 countries including elected officials, past and present and their associates. The leaks will most likely bring on investigations in several countries and could potentially affect some leaders involved.
As the information continues to be digested by the public and published by other news sources, you can follow the live updates from sites like The Guardian or delve in to the ICIJ reports for yourself. The site breaks down the power players and key figures and you can see the methodology and analysis behind the breakdown of the data.