High Life

Jackrabbit News Brief: Panama Papers

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Quite possibly one of the largest data leaks in history occurred at the beginning of April. The Panama Papers included 11.5 million documents that contain sensitive information about how wealthy individuals hid their money through shell companies—companies that exist on paper, but hold no substance—in order to evade taxes. Such documents totaled to a massive 2.6 terabytes of data and pointed to many heads of state, government officials, and friends or relatives of such people involved.
These papers have been an ongoing investigation by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) since 2015, and the papers went public by Süddeutsche Zeitung, a German newspaper. In order to prevent another “Snowden” incident, a team of 400 journalists investigated this in secret.
The company Mossack Fonseca is based in Panama. Many use this law firm as a means of distributing profits to synthetic companies in order to evade taxes or hide money for other reasons. This practice has been known for a long time―historically, the Cayman Islands have been used as a tax haven because they have no corporate tax policies.
The papers date back to as far as the 1970s and politicians are already being forced out of power. On the same day that the Panama Papers leaked, the Iceland Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson was already under fire since his name was highlighted in the articles. A whopping 10% of the entire country’s population rioted and wanted him out of power immediately. He refused to resign on the first day, but after the second day, he resigned, though he remains politically active.
These papers will be a major speaking point during the presidential election, as the records are showing that President Barack Obama and Secretary Hillary Clinton have supported trade agreements between Panama, while Senator Bernie Sanders spoke and voted against it due to the potential of tax evasion. So far, there are no American names that have leaked out, but the papers are still being investigated.

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