The journalist group that obtained data on hundreds of thousands of accounts from Panama has issued more leaked information.
The Washington DC-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, which over a month ago sent shockwaves through the financial and political world by publishing leaked account data from Panama, has issued more information on hundreds of thousands of accounts.
The ICIJ said it has issued a "searchable database that strips away the secrecy of nearly 214,000 offshore entities created in 21 jurisdictions, from Nevada to Hong Kong and the British Virgin Islands". The body claims the data is the largest ever release of such information from offshore data and it includes names of real owners. The organisation says it is issuing the data in the public interest.
The Panama Papers saga, involving leaked files from Panama-based law firm Mossack Foneseca, has been controversial, not simply because it has caused political embarrassment in countries such as the UK (prime minister David Cameron's late father had a Panama-based account), and Iceland, where a prime minister resigned amid revelations of his financial dealings, but because of concerns about legitimate client privacy being put at risk. The saga raises further questions about setting boundaries between legitimate privacy and secrecy. (To see commentary on the issue, click here.)
The leaked information, ICIJ said, is a fraction of the trove of more than 11.5 million leaked files.
"ICIJ is not publishing the totality of the leak, and it is not disclosing raw documents or personal information en masse. The database contains a great deal of information about company owners, proxies and intermediaries in secrecy jurisdictions, but it doesn’t disclose bank accounts, email exchanges and financial transactions contained in the documents," it said.
"In all, the interactive application reveals more than 360,000 names of people and companies behind secret offshore structures. As the data are from leaked sources and not a standardised registry, there may be some duplication of names. The data was originally obtained from an anonymous source by reporters at the German newspaper Süeddeustche Zeitung, who asked ICIJ to organise a global reporting collaboration to analyse the files," it said.
"More than 370 reporters in nearly 80 countries probed the files for a year. Their investigations uncovered the secret offshore holdings of 12 world leaders, more than 128 other politicians and scores of fraudsters, drug traffickers and other criminals whose companies had been blacklisted in the US and elsewhere," it said.
The files revealed, for example, that associates of Russia's president, Vladimir Putin, secretly shuffled as much as $2 billion through banks and shadow companies.