The original revelations from the Panama Papers leak were handled by a select group of news organizations. But if you’ve ever wanted to delve into the financial goings-on of the rich and famous, the entire trove of documents relating to 200,000 accounts is now online, in a handy searchable database no less.
The Offshore Leaks Database indexes and makes accessible the entire trove of documents. You can search by company, address, country, and a bunch of other fields. The database will even help you develop a web to show links between different offshore holding companies and trusts, a vital part of trying to understand the complicated finanical systems used to disguise ownership.
Major players from the Panama papers have already been identified by teams of journalists worldwide, but dumping the documents online for all to see is going to cause ripples across the globe. So far, world leaders and politicians have been exposed, but with hundreds of thousands of legal entities at play, you can bet that far more businesses are going to be found with questionable tax arrangements.
The Panama Papers is the name given to a leak of documents from Mossack Fonseca, a Panama-based law firm with offices around the world. The data leak, which came from a whistleblower within the firm, has revealed the true owners — known as “beneficial owners” — of hundreds of thousands of firms across the globe. Having money in an offshore fund isn’t illegal, per se — but as everyone from Vladimir Putin to the Icelandic prime minister has discovered, having your tax arrangements aired in public is inconvenient at best, and career-ending at worst.
Still, the fact that these tax arrangements are often legal will become particularly important in the coming days. Whereas politicians have a need to act ethically, not just legally, most business people have no such scruples. While politicians can be shamed with revelations of offshore tax arrangements, someone with billions of dollars in offshore trusts probably doesn’t care about public opinion quite so much.