‘Panama Papers’ massive hack likely to expose tax cheats and politicians hiding wealth

It’s being called the “Wikileaks of the mega-rich,” a hack of confidential documents that’s even larger.  And it is going to take a long time to sort through 11.5 million documents stolen from the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca, which has specialized in setting up shell companies in order to help disguise and hide wealth.

A group called the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists has published the files in cooperation with the newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung, which it dubbed the Panamanian Papers.  The headliner, at least for now, is Vladimir Putin, whose associates are supposed to have hidden $2 billion.  ICIJ summarizes the 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 prime ministers of Iceland and Pakistan, 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 territorie
  • Major banks have driven the creation of hard-to-trace companies in offshore havens

I have to say that I am not exactly shocked.  The very wealthy have always found ways to evade heavy taxation, which is why I cast such a cynical eye on mega-rich leftists.

Almost certainly, there will be a stream of stories coming for months, revealing the dirty laundry of the world’s crooked politicians and dodgy rich.

The fact that all this data was stolen by hackers seems to be of little concern.  Maybe privacy is now an obsolete concept.  But face it: we have crooks tattling on crooks.

Update: I should add that it is very likely that there are many legitimate clients of the Mossack Fonseca Law Firm, people and entities obeying the law, who have also had their privacy violated. This is criminal behavior, and they are victims.