An ICIJ Investigation The Panama Papers: Exposing the Rogue Offshore Finance Industry

Leaders, criminals, celebrities

A giant leak of more than 11.5 million financial and legal records exposes a system that enables crime, corruption and wrongdoing, hidden by secretive offshore companies.

Hidden in 11.5 million secret files are 140 politicians from more than 50 countries connected to offshore companies in 21 tax havens. Explore dozens of stories in this interactive feature.

Behind the email chains, invoices and documents that make up the Panama Papers are often unseen victims of wrongdoing. This is their story.

Welcome to the secret world of offshore. Your goal is to navigate this parallel universe and hide your cash away. Don’t get caught!

Key findings

  • Files reveal the offshore holdings of 140 politicians and public officials from around the world
  • Current and former world leaders in the data include the prime minister of Iceland, the president of Ukraine, and the king of Saudi Arabia
  • More than 214,000 offshore entities appear in the leak, connected to people in more than 200 countries and territories
  • Major banks have driven the creation of hard-to-trace companies in offshore havens

About this investigation

The Panama Papers is one of the biggest leaks and largest collaborative investigations in journalism history.

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The U.K. will force its overseas territories, including some well-known corporate secrecy havens, to reveal the names of company owners in these locations.

Rafael Caro Quintero, the one-time head of the Guadalajara drug cartel in Mexico, has been added to the FBI’s most wanted fugitives.

Former Pakistan leader Nawaz Sharif life ban from politics has been greeted with gunfire and predictions.

Here are 11 unexpected insights from our 2016 investigation, the Panama Papers.

Two years after the Panama Papers was first published, journalists look back on the project through different lenses, but taken together, they reflect a world in flux.

Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa says there is still $826 million stashed offshore, as the country names and shames those it believes illegally transferred money abroad.

The offshore law firm at the center of ICIJ’s Panama Papers investigation will shutter all its offices by the end of the month.

An anti-corruption court has filed charges against former Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, his daughter and son-in-law, in the latest development set off by disclosures in the Panama Papers.

The Supreme Court of Pakistan has voted unanimously to disqualify Nawaz Sharif from the prime ministership and has referred his case to the country’s top anti-corruption authority for an investigation.

One year after the Panama Papers first became an international catchphrase, here’s a globe-hopping update on the people and institutions caught up in the scandal.

One year ago, ICIJ launched the biggest investigation in journalism history: the Panama Papers. It sparked protests, resignations, arrests and fierce debate around the world. And that was just the beginning.

The law firm at the heart of the Panama Papers affair, sold shell companies and held bank accounts that were used to help conceal bribes paid across South America, a Panamanian prosecutor alleged at a press conference.

Police in Panama arrested the founders of Mossack Fonseca, the law firm at the center of the Panama Papers scandal, on money laundering charges Thursday after authorities raided the firm’s headquarters as part of investigations into Brazil’s largest-ever bribery scandal.

The 2.6 TB trove of data at the core of the Panama Papers contains nearly 40 years of records, and includes information on more than 210,000 companies in 21 jurisdictions.

Tax agencies from 30 countries convened in Paris this week to take part in the largest ever simultaneous exchange of tax information and to share results and details on thousands of investigations sparked by the Panama Papers.

In a country where top lawyers move freely between government and laws firms, bringing change to the offshore industry is a challenge.

Reporters have faced consequences both in nations where media crackdowns are common and also in nations with reputations for high levels of press freedom.

The investigation has produced an almost daily drumbeat of regulatory moves, follow-up stories and calls by politicians and activists for more action to combat offshore financial secrecy.

The $440,000 penalty followed a six-month investigation which included on-site compliance inspections and the appointment of an officer to monitor Mossack Fonseca’s operations.

Report’s authors say that the U.S. and EU have the power to force other nations to embrace transparency reforms by threatening to cut off access to their financial systems.

Nawaz Sharif defended himself before the nation’s highest court, as opposition supporters celebrated in Islamabad.

A PR firm is being paid $50,000 a month to help the Panama government, while arrests, protests and more continue around the world.

Confidential emails revealed in the Panama Papers have opened a new front in a bitter court battle in Nevada involving a hedge fund led by an American billionaire, new court filings show.

The committee was established in the wake of the Panama Papers to probe Panama’s financial services industry, but now two out of three international members have resigned.

Africa receives $50 billion of foreign aid money annually, but then loses roughly the same amount through illicit outflows. Can you uncover Africa’s offshore empires? Play now!

The Panama Papers show how politicians and mining, oil and gas interests benefit from secrecy and dubious multimillion dollar transfers.

A dealmaker’s backstage maneuverings are revealed in the Panama Papers as he hung with celebrities while criminal investigators closed in.

The Panama Papers reveal a network of shell companies linked to a mining operation that has been accused of environmental harms and unpaid taxes.

The Panama Papers

Out of Africa, Into Tax Havens

As visitors come to see what’s in Africa, some safari operators’ profits head offshore.

Mossack Fonseca targeted clients in Africa for business, but now some of those clients have become targets themselves as authorities launch investigations into the Panama Papers revelations.

The European Commission has announced it will tighten the European Union’s anti-money laundering rules and increase transparency requirements for companies and trusts.

The joint investigation will be the “first of its kind,” and Venezuela’s attorney general has hinted at a long list of suspects.

A special 65-member Panama Papers committee of inquiry has been created by the European parliament to investigate potential wrongdoing exposed by ICIJ’s investigation.

Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca’s local affiliate in Nevada has resigned from more than 1,000 companies and paid a penalty to the state amid investigations on multiple fronts.

Nevada, Wyoming and Delaware are facing growing pressure over their lack of corporate transparency, as the United States and the international community continue to respond to fallout from the Panama Papers.

Meet The Dutchman, the Queen of the South, the Boss of Bosses and other convicted felons and alleged wrongdoers who have benefited from services provided by the law firm.

Mossack Fonseca’s files include offshore companies linked to at least 36 Americans accused of serious financial wrongdoing, including fraud and racketeering.

The 21 jurisdictions covered by the Panama Papers data vary from the rolling hills of Wyoming to tropical getaways like the British Virgin Islands. But all have at least one thing in common – secrecy is the rule.

The anonymous whistleblower behind the Panama Papers has conditionally offered to make the documents available to government authorities.

The Obama administration has proposed a national registry documenting the real owners of shell companies and other measures aimed at fighting offshore chicanery.

Records in the Panama Papers and the Swiss Leaks leaked files tie the wife of Iceland President Ólafur Grímsson to offshore companies and accounts.

The database, to be released on May 9, will likely be the largest ever release of secret offshore companies and the people behind them.

Uruguayan prosecutors are seeking to bring to trial at least five individuals detained on suspicion of laundering money for a powerful Mexican drug cartel.

ICIJ welcomes the interest from the Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s office, but has made it clear it won’t be turning over its data or taking part in any investigation.

More than a dozen banks identified in the Panama Papers investigation have been asked to hand over details of their communications with Mossack Fonseca.

Nawaz Sharif faces growing pressure and calls for his resignation, a Spanish minister has stepped aside, and more governments are pledging reform as fallout from the Panama Papers revelations continues.

The search of Mossack Fonseca’s Panama headquarters comes after a number of raids and official action taken in response to the Panama Papers revelations.

Tax officials from 28 nations met in Paris to develop a strategy for collaborative action based on Panama Papers revelations.

David Cameron appeared before parliament on Monday to address concerns about his own links to offshore holdings revealed in the Panama Papers, as well as announce reform aimed at boosting transparency.

The Panama Papers

The Art of Secrecy

Locked in the files of a Panama law firm are the answers to mysteries involving Van Goghs, Picassos, Rembrandts and other masterworks.

Swiss police searched the office of Europe’s top soccer association and a member of FIFA’s ethics panel resigned following Panama Papers revelations.

Eight current and former members of the Politburo Standing Committee, the country’s top decision makers, have relatives with secret offshore companies.

Firm helps CIA operatives and other characters — real or fanciful — from the world of espionage set up offshore companies to obscure their dealings.

The prime minister of Iceland said he would resign following mass protests triggered by reports from ICIJ and partners that he had owned an offshore company in the British Virgin Islands with his wife.

Global law firm’s customers include suspected financiers of terrorism, nuclear weapons proliferators and gunrunners.

Documents peel away three layers of secret ownership in a conglomerate and lead to gold mines and overseas real estate.

Leaked records show that hundreds of banks and their subsidiaries and branches registered nearly 15,600 shell companies.

Complex offshore financial deals channel money and power towards a network of people and companies linked to President Vladimir Putin.

Files show client roster that includes drug dealers, Mafia members, corrupt politicians and tax evaders — and wrongdoing galore.

Secret documents show how deeply the world of soccer has become enmeshed in the world of offshore havens.

He came to power after the country’s financial collapse while hiding his offshore holdings of millions in bonds from Icelandic banks.

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The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists is a global network of more than 200 investigative journalists in 70 countries who collaborate on in-depth investigative stories.

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