World braces for online release of Panama Papers database


PANAMA CITY: The Panama Papers scandal promises to deepen around the world today when a journalists’ group with access to the digital cache of documents is to put many of them online.

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) is to release the documents in a searchable database at 1800 GMT today, accessible to the public at offshoreleaks.icij.org.

The US-based organisation said the release “will not be a data dump'” of the sort the Wikileaks group became known for.

But it will reveal names and information on 200,000 offshore entities set up by wealthy individuals around the world.

The documents are from 2.6 terabytes of data given to a German newspaper, Sueddeutsche Zeitung, over a year ago by ananonymous source using the name “John Doe”.

The data came from nearly four decades of digital archives of one Panamanian law firm specialised in creating and running offshore entities, Mossack Fonseca, which says its computer records were hacked from abroad.

The German newspaper gave access to the trove to the ICIJ, and through it to hundreds of journalists in different countries.

Reports thus far have focused on scores of high-profile individuals: political leaders, celebrities and a few criminals.

Panama leaks revelations

A part of the investigation was published April 3 by an international coalition of more than 100 media outlets ─ based on 11.5 million records and 2.6 terabytes of information drawn from the internal database of Panamaian law firm Mossack Fonseca ─ details how politicians, celebrities and other famous people use banks, law firms and offshore shell companies to hide their assets.

According to documents available on the ICIJ website, the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s children Maryam, Hasan and Hussain “were owners or had the right to authorise transactions for several companies”.

The data leak revealed the financial wheelings and dealings of over 200 Pakistanis, including the late Benazir Bhutto, Rehman Malik and other prominent politicians and businessmen.-AFP

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