By Marian Wilkinson and Ali Russell
It’s the shadowy world of secret international finance and tax avoidance.
“What we’re looking at here is really a parallel universe.”
This ABC Four Corners investigation will reveal how the rich and powerful exploit the system.
“What this really says is a lot about the system itself and how broke the system is and how crazy the whole thing is.”
Four Corners’ reporter Marian Wilkinson follows the money trail and it’s worth trillions of dollars.
“I was on their immigration stop list. But we’ve gotten in.”
— Marian Wilkinson, reporter
Confidential documents from the notorious Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca was made public on Sunday, exposing a vast web of offshore shell companies used by members of the global elite to evade taxes, hoard money, and skirt economic sanctions.
The Panama Papers: Secrets of the super rich, reported by Marian Wilkinson and presented by Sarah Ferguson, goes to air on tonight, April 4, at 8.30pm EST.
A huge leak of 11.5 million documents from a Panama law firm reveals how the world’s rich hide their money, according to Germany’s Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper.
The newspaper on Sunday reported Mossack Fonseca, one of the world’s most secretive offshore law firms, said it had operated with impunity for decades in its efforts to help clients launder money and avoid tax.
The clients include current and former world leaders, politicians and celebrities.
“Over a year ago, an anonymous source contacted the Süddeutsche Zeitung and submitted encrypted internal documents from Mossack Fonseca, a Panamanian law firm that sells anonymous offshore companies around the world,” the newspaper report said. “These shell firms enable their owners to cover up their business dealings, no matter how shady.”
The documents, dubbed the Panama Papers, were obtained by the Munich-based daily newspaper. It shared them with the Washington-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and other international news outlets. In total, some 107 media outlets in 78 countries investigated the data.
Largest data leak
“2.6 terabytes of data, 11.5 millions documents, and 214,000 shell companies: The Panama Papers are the largest data leak journalists have ever worked with,” Sueddeutsche tweeted on Sunday.
The documents link at least 12 current and former heads of state and 143 other politicians to illicit financial transactions.
Some 140 offshore companies are named in the documents are connected to politicians or public officials and their families.
The most widely circulated revelations from the Panama Papers shed light on the financial transactions that have contributed to the wealth of members of several world leaders’ inner circles.
Though the files appear to show how Mossack Fonseca – the world’s fourth largest offshore firm – helped clients launder money and evade tax, the company says it has never been accused of any wrongdoing.