Eleven million leaked documents published on Sunday reveal how a secretive law firm based in Panama may have helped world leaders such as Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Egypt’s former president Hosni Mubarak move money.
The German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung acquired the Panama Papers, of the firm Mossack Fonseca, through an anonymous source and shared it with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), which distributed them to more than 100 media organizations worldwide.
The Panama Papers project is being called the largest investigative journalism collaboration ever attempted.
The papers include details about formerly secret offshore holdings of celebrities, mafia leaders, tax evaders and money launderers and more than 140 politicians from more than 50 countries dating back 40 years.
— Edward Snowden (@Snowden) April 3, 2016
So far media reports have implicated FIFA officials, Iceland’s Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson and Russian President Vladmir Putin.
In an interview with PBS NewsHour Anchor Hari Sreenivasan, ICIJ Director Gerard Ryle says it is important to remember that there is usually nothing illegal about offshore accounts, which are generally used to help people evade taxes or hide assets from officials.
Instead, Ryle said that the practice of using offshore accounts just looks “rather suspicious.”
“…all we can do is report what we see,” Ryle said. “In some cases, of course you would say that they may have breached ethics rules in their own countries.”