The “Panama Papers,” a huge leak of secret intelligence, possibly the biggest in history, is creating headaches for many of the world’s power brokers.
11.5 million confidential documents were leaked. The leaks shocked the world, as it showed how some of its leaders may have used offshore bank accounts and shell companies to hide their wealth or avoid taxes in their home countries.
These millions of documents leaked from Mossack Fonseca included politicians from all over the world, celebrities, sports personalities, famous business personalities and countless lesser-known individuals. This leak has caused many to ask the question: Just how corrupt is global economy?
The leaks included names of Russian leader Vladimir Putin’s close associates, Chinese President Xi Pinging’s relatives, the father of England’s Prime Minister David Cameron, Saudi Arabia’s King Salman, Prime Minister of Iceland Sigmundur David Gunnlaugson, Mauricio Marci the President of Argentina and the global soccer phenomenon Lionel Messi.
The aftermath has already hit some of these people really hard, especially the politicians, even though the full scale is not known yet. Iceland’s Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugson resigned after the early waves of the huge scandal. He is considered the first major fallout after the scandal.
England’s Prime Minister, and one of the most known names in politics, David Cameron has been facing huge backlash from the leak. Members of the House of Commons have been extremely critical of Cameron’s explanation for his father’s involvement with the scandal. A member of House of Commons has been thrown out after calling Cameron “Dodgy Dave” in a debate. The British public as a whole also appears to be critical of Cameron’s involvement.
Reacting to the outpouring of condemnation, Cameron announced that he will put together a task force that focuses on “tax evasion.” Cameron also said he was upset about how his father’s name was being stigmatized.
Mossack Fonseca is the company at the center of the leak. It is a law firm based in Panama known for helping big companies with their offshore bank accounts. Because of the numerous allegations, this April was the first time the company drew this much attention. Journalists at the German newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung were the first ones to publicize the trove of leaked documents. The firm suddenly found itself in a tough spot. Mossack Fonseca continues to claim that the leaks are a misrepresentation of their work.
Global politics controversial figure, Russian leader Vladimir Putin, has been a main focus for journalists too. Even though his name wasn’t directly found in the leaked documents, names of his close associates were included. Putin responded by saying that this was a western effort to weaken Russia and denied any personal links to the embattled firm.
“Since day one, people have been creating conspiracy theories about Russia’s role and involvement,” Putin said.
Mark Galeotti, a NYU professor says the the leaks provide valuable information on how corruption works in Russia today.
“Together, these stories tell us something important about how corruption works in Russia,” said Galeotti. “Whereas in many countries corruption is the means by which elites turn their power into money, in Russia it is the other way around — corruption is a way to get and keep the political power that is so much more important than mere wealth.”
Sources say we will have more information about the leaks in May.