Panama Papers Reveal International Economic Scandals

Alex Castillo, Copy Editor

Over 2.6 terabytes of data from an insider at Mossack Fonesca, a Panamanian law firm, were leaked by the staff of Süddeutsche Zeitung, a German newspaper, containing information detailing how leaders and celebrities from around the world established ways to safeguard their money from taxes on April 3, as an attempt to expose the immoral practices by wealthy leaders of state and internationally recognized celebrities.


The email containing the information itself came from an individual in early 2015. The sender requested to remain anonymous. They also requested to only speak through secure, encrypted connections and refused to ever meet with anyone, as they were afraid of being monitored and hunted down by the Panamanian SPI agents.


Quickly realizing that all of the data they had received would be too much to handle on their own, Süddeutsche Zeitung traveled to Washington D.C. to spread the information across all members of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. There, the newspaper revealed that the leak contained 11.5 million documents spanning from 1970 to December 2015, consisting of about five million emails, three million database formats, two million PDFs, one million images, and 250,000 text documents.


Egor Goncear, 11, a Russian immigrant, maintains close ties with his family and news back home. Goncear is concerned for the integrity of Russia now that Vladimir Putin’s name has been discovered in the Panama Papers.


“It’s kind of disappointing to have Putin in all of this,” Goncear said. “A lot of people I know still wrongfully think of Russia as a super communist and evil country, and this whole news story doesn’t help Russia’s image.”


These papers have exposed the wealthy in the world, such as the Japanese mafia, the Sicilian mafia, drug traffickers, and weapons dealers. Junior, Chris Perez thinks that exposing these people is the right thing to do morally.


“I think it’s kind of a good thing,” Perez said. “These super rich people are taking advantage of the power they have and can afford to save their money in other countries so they don’t get taxed while everyone else can barely make their payments. It’s not fair.”


Junior, Zenaida Terrones, shows uncertainty over the issue. She tries to see the other side of the story.


“People are just naturally greedy,” Terrones said. “I don’t know what people expected, honestly. Of course these super rich people are going to do what they can to keep every ounce of their money. It shouldn’t be such a big surprise that there’s celebrities with offshore accounts.”


This leak has potentially ruined the lives of the over 800 account holders involved in the offshore businesses. Leaders from all around the world, including Russian president Vladimir Putin and Icelandic Prime Minister Sigmundur Gunnlaugsson, have been discovered to hold offshore bank accounts to store all their money. The Australian Tax Office has taken the burden of finding and jailing the offenders and is expected to finish their investigation within the next few decades.