A leaked set of 11.5 million confidential and restricted   documents from the database of the world’s fourth biggest well known offshore law firm, Mossack Fonseca. The records were obtained from an anonymous source by the German based newspaper which shared them with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists(ICIJ). The ICIJ then shared  the documents with a huge network of international media partners, consisting the Guardian and the BBC.

What do they divulge?

The documents show many ways in which the rich can take advantage of guarded offshore taxes.

A $2billion track leads all the way to Russian President Vladimir Putin. The leaders amongst national heads with offshore assets are Nawaz Sharif  Pakistan’s current Prime minister;  the ex-interim prime minister and earlier vice-president of Iraq Ayad Allawi , Petro Poroshenko  President of Ukraine , son of  Egypt’s  ex-President Alaa Mubarak , and Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson ruling prime minister of  Iceland . An offshore investment fund run by the father of British prime minister David Cameron  by hiring bunch of  Bahamas inhabitants to sign its paperwork. The fund has been listed with HM Revenue and Customs since its initiation and has filed featured tax returns every year. In the UK, six members from the House of Lords, three Ex Conservative MPs and many of the  donors to British political parties have had offshore investments.

The families of nearly eight current and former members of China’s supreme ruling body, the politburo, have been found to have concealed assets offshore.

Twenty-three entities who have had permits to force on them for maintaining the governments in North Korea, Zimbabwe, Russia, Iran and Syria have been the main and frequent customers of Mossack Fonseca. Their companies were harbored by the Seychelles, the British Virgin Islands, Panama and other influences

A key member of Fifa’s influential ethics board, which is supposed to be leading restructuring at world football’s scandal-hit governing body, acted as a lawyer for all the individuals and companies recently accused with crime of enticement and corruption


What is Mossack Fonseca?

It is a Panama-based law firm whose major services consists of  incorporating companies in offshore jurisdictions for instance the British Virgin Islands. It administers offshore firms for an annual  fee. Other services include wealth management.

Where is it based?

The firm is Panamanian based but runs on a worldwide scale . Its official website has a global network with 600 people working in 42 different major countries. It has franchises almost all around the world, where separately possessed associates recruit fresh patrons and have restricted rights to use its trade name. Mossack Fonseca operates in tax havens including all the major countries like Switzerland, Cyprus and the British Virgin Islands, and in the Britain Guernsey, Jersey and the Isle of Man.

How big Mossack Fonseca is?

Mossack Fonseca is the world’s fourth biggest firm which provides  offshore services. It has acted for more than 300,000 companies. There is a strong UK connection assumed . More than half of  all the  companies are registered in British-administered tax havens, as well as in the United Kingdom .

How much data has been unveild?

a large number of data has been disclosed . The leak is one of the biggest ever – even larger than the US diplomatic cables which were released by WikiLeaks in year  2010, and the secret intelligence documents given to the famous journalists by Edward Snowden in 2013 There are 11.5m documents and 2.6 terabytes of information drained from Mossack Fonseca’s internal record

Are all people who use offshore structures lawbreakers?

No. basically Using offshore structures is all  legal. There are many legitimate reasons for doing so. Business people in countries such as Russia and Ukraine normally put their assets offshore to guard them from “invasions” by criminals, and to get around hard currency controls. Others use offshore for reasons of inheritance and wealth planning.

What are the reviews of Mossack Fonseca say about this mega leak?

The firm does not discuss specific cases of declared illegal behavior, citing customer secretively. But it strongly guards its conduct. Mossack Fonseca says it complies with anti-money-laundering laws and carries out thorough due attentiveness on all its clients. It says it grieve over  any exploitation of its services and tries vigorously to prevent it. The firm says it cannot be accused for failings by mediators, who include banks, law firms and accountants.

By Abeera Saeed