The Panama Papers

Frequently asked questions about ICIJ and the Panama Papers

Arthur Jones

Why didn’t ICIJ publish all the Panama Papers files?

We are an investigative journalism organization and, as such, we report stories that are in the public interest. The Panama Papers expose significant systemic failures inside the offshore economy. They reveal how politicians, banks, criminals and sports celebrities have taken advantage of the secrecy provided by tax havens and, in some cases, broken the law. Those stories and others we are pursuing serve the public interest by bringing accountability to the offshore industry – an industry that has long operated in the shadows.

Other parts of the data are of a private nature and of no interest to the public.

ICIJ will not release personal data en masse but will continue to mine the full data with its media partners.

Will ICIJ at least publish a database of people and companies?

In early May ICIJ will release the names of the more than 214,000 offshore entities incorporated by Mossack Fonseca and the people connected to them (as beneficiaries, shareholders or directors).

The names – with links to more than 200 countries – will be added to the Offshore Leaks database (published in 2013), which already contains more than 100,000 paper companies that ICIJ obtained in a previous leak. The exact release date will be confirmed soon. Sign up to our mailing list to be the first to know.

Will ICIJ share documents from the Panama Papers with governments?

The long-standing policy of ICIJ, and our parent organization, the Center for Public Integrity, is not to turn over such material.

The ICIJ is not an arm of law enforcement and is not an agent of the government. We are an independent reporting organization, served by and serving our members, the global investigative journalism community and the public.

Should I assume that everyone that appears in the Panama Papers is involved in tax avoidance or evasion?

No. There are legitimate reasons to create a company in an offshore jurisdiction and many people declare them to their tax authorities when that is required.

How can I join the investigation?

Once we have finished publishing a planned series of stories with our partners our attention will turn to countries where we still have investigative work to do. A number of other media organizations have reached out to us offering help and support, and we welcome these new offers of collaboration. We are vetting the requests and plan to pick a few new partners in the coming weeks.

This is not easy data to understand. It took great commitment from all of our current media partners to find stories of important public interest. ICIJ’s data unit provided training to our partners to make sure that everyone understood the intricacies of the information they were reporting on.

If you are a journalist and want to partner with us send us an email to

How does ICIJ pick its reporting partners?

ICIJ is an independent network of nearly 200 investigative journalists in more than 65 countries who work together of issues of global significance. Sometimes we go to our members with an idea for a project and sometimes our members come to us with their own ideas or data. The the Panama Papers investigation, ICIJ members Bastian Obermayer and Frederik Obermaier from the German newspaper Süeddeutsche Zeitung shared the files they had obtained with ICIJ so we could organize a global investigation.

We sometimes work with journalists and media organizations that are not part of our network, for example in countries where we haven’t done work before. We vet those new partners thoroughly. What do we seek in our partners? 1) Journalists with a proven record in investigative reporting 2) Media organizations that support “slow,” deep-dive investigations 3) Journalists who are team players and are willing to share their work with other colleagues around the world 4) Generally nice people (life is short!).

How do I get in touch with ICIJ if I want to share a tip or documents?

There are a number of ways to contact ICIJ, depending on the nature of your message or the material you would like to share.

ICIJ also uses PGP encryption: our public key can be found on the MIT PGP Public Key Server (fingerprint: 986A 572D 3B95 BD42 331E 839A B532 F18C 2A17 696B); our email address is

Who funds ICIJ?

ICIJ is a non-profit organization. We rely heavily on charitable foundations and on financial support from the public. We do not take funding from governments. Without our readers’ support, we cannot exist.

Recent ICIJ funders include: Adessium Foundation, Open Society Foundations, The Sigrid Rausing Trust, The Ford Foundation, Fritt Ord Foundation and the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting. We also receive support from Australian philanthropist Graeme Wood.

We welcome individual donations in support of our work.