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Panama Papers: Biggest Data Leak In History Reveals That, Appallingly, The Rich And Powerful Are Corrupt



Editor’s Note:

Introducing Riggs. As you can maybe tell from the headline he’ll be covering different types of stories for us. Real news type shit. Stuff you can stick in your back pocket and bust out the next time you need to impress your girlfriend’s dad or something. At least that’s the plan but that could change at a moment’s notice. He’s a Harvard grad so he’s smarter than us, but also was a hockey player there so not too much of a nerd. I mean as much as a Harvard boy can be not a nerd. Hopefully he’s better received than our last Harvard hire. -K.M.

USA TodaySunday’s jaw-dropping “Panama Papers” leak, which shows a global network of offshore companies helping the wealthy hide their assets, is already being called the Wikileaks of the mega-rich.”

The hashtag #panamapapers topped Twitter on Sunday afternoon. Among those reacting through tweets: Edward Snowden, the 2013 CIA leaker, who said the “Biggest leak in the history of data journalism just went live, and it’s about corruption.”




So the biggest story out of Sunday, besides fake wrestling, was the massive data leak tying essentially everything rich and powerful in this world to corruption. Believe me, you’ve never really experienced the Sunday Scaries until you’ve read 11.5 million records (like I obviously did) telling you that your international role model for integrity, Vladimir Putin, is corrupt. The guy that rose to prominence as a strong arm in the KGB and assassinates those that publicly oppose him also embezzles taxpayer money offshores to enhance his personal wealth? Appalling. Disheartening. What’s next, Mother Teresa was a call girl?

The leak is far-reaching and, like mentioned, dabbles mostly in the art of offshore accounts. It goes well beyond Putin, Russia and the usual suspects. Iceland’s prime minister, for example, is shown to have co-owned a previously undisclosed company in the Virgin Islands that held investments for his now wife (who is very rich). He’s already expected to get voted out of office after outcry for a snap election.


Here he is articulately describing said company moments before walking out of an interview.

So how’d we get here? About a year ago an anonymous source sent 11.5 million documents from the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca to the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung. SZ then consulted with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, including “400 journalists from more than 100 media organizations in over 80 countries,” to analyze the data. From that analysis, SZ concludes that the data “proves how a global industry led by major banks, legal firms, and asset management companies secretly manages the estates of the world’s rich and famous: from politicians, FIFA officials, fraudsters and drug smugglers, to celebrities and professional athletes.”

Love how all those accused above were mentioned in a general sense except for FIFA. It really is admirable how hated FIFA is in big soccer countries.

With 11.5 million documents, the vetting of this leak is far from over. The story will have legs for weeks, months, and probably years. It’s The Fappening for nerds. But already, plenty of famous individuals have been outed for varying degrees of shadiness.

Like politicians: President of Argentina, President of Ukraine, Prime Minister of Pakistan, King of Saudi Arabia (still, rocking the monarchy system is awesome), Prime Minister of Iceland, the former Prime Minister of Iraq, several close friends of Putin and many, many more.

Like pro athletes: Leo Messi, who’s already under investigation for tax evasion in Spain, and his father were the owners of a shell company (a fake company used to illegally funnel money).

As fun as it is to joke about Putin as the perfect political villain or little Leo Messi dribbling his assets around the Spanish IRS, there are awful consequences to all this corruption. From connections to arming and funding terrorism to accusations of greedily underfunding the sick and wounded, here’s a great look at the real-life consequences:


Is some of the corruption, some of the secrecy, some of the complex money trailing done with the simple intent of a small personal gain? Of course. But it’s a slippery slope that leads quickly to small personal gains coming at a devastating cost to others. And when that happens, as it has on a massive scale, you get a ton of people seeking harsh punishment for the perpetrators. In the coming aftermath, it’ll be fascinating to see what happens to some of the richest, most powerful people on earth.




PS – How rattled is Portnoy he’s not in this? 11.5 million docs about power and money and not a single mention of Davey Pageviews.