Panama Papers one year on: our favorite stories

April 3rd, 2017

It’s been one year since the world was rocked by the revelations of the Panama Papers, the largest data leak in the history of journalism. And since then, a lot has happened. Governments have begun to take notice and many have committed to increased transparency measures. But while much of the focus should be on where we go from here to prevent the next case of tax abuse, corruption or money laundering, we also wanted to look back at some of the most intriguing stories from the Panama Papers.

So here’s our top 10:

10. Dirty Little Secrets

Fusion, one of the U.S. partners for the investigation, did a great job looking at the story from a U.S. angle, which was difficult, considering the fact that there weren’t many bombshell American names that came out. Despite this, they used expertise in reaching younger audiences to create some very funny (while still informative) videos on the issue of tax havens. You can read their more in-depth reporting here and watch one of the videos below.

9. Pakistan’s Prime Minister connected to Panama Papers

In some fascinating reporting from ICIJ’s partners in Pakistan, the Center for Investigative Reporting in Pakistan, it was revealed that family members of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif were the beneficial owners of companies set up by Mossack Fonseca. Some of the offshore companies were used to purchase high end real estate in London. The revelations caused uproar in Pakistan, and Prime Minister Sharif faced a corruption probe as a result.

8. The Kings of the Offshore Business

This in-depth piece looks at the connections between the leaked Panama Papers documents and leaders of countries in the Middle East. The story, published by Süddeutsche Zeitung, found that a whopping 73 members of ruling royal families in the Middle East were named in the Panama Papers.

7. The Magnitsky Case

In this intriguing report from Süddeutsche Zeitung, we learn about possible connections between a notorious corruption case in Russia, brought to light by Sergei Magnitsky, and some of Russia’s most powerful politicians, including its president.

6. Argentinian President Caught up in Revelations

The President of Argentina found himself having to answer questions about an offshore company found in the Panama Papers that was connected to him. His family’s ties to the offshore world are now being investigated by Argentina’s AFIP, the agency responsible for public revenue.

5. Panama Papers Show How Rich U.S. Clients Hid Millions Abroad

The New York Times was not an official ICIJ partner,  but after the launch they begun pouring over some of the U.S. data to develop their own stories, including this one, which profiles one wealthy U.S. citizen and the maze of offshore entities he and his lawyers created to shield his millions from taxes.

4. Out of Africa, Into Tax Havens

If you head out on safari in Africa, I’m sure you assume that the money will go back into the business and stimulate the local economy. However, ICIJ’s Will Fitzgibbon found at least one Zimbabwe-based safari company that headquartered itself on paper in the British Virgin Islands, a jurisdiction 100 times smaller than Zimbabwe’s biggest safari reserve. More than 30 ‘offshore’ safari businesses were discovered, raising questions about their routing of profits into low- or no-tax jurisdictions in the far away waters of the Caribbean.

3. How the One Percenters Divorce 

This piece looks at how the world’s wealthy divide up their assets when they split up. The fascinating story of hide and seek, from ICIJ’s Will Fitzgibbon, gives you an inside look at the legal battles wealthy individuals go through when they decide to call it quits.

2. The Victims of Offshore

This four minute video debuts the story of the Panama Papers, and highlights the real victims of offshore. From war to human trafficking, the sobering video displays a grittier side of financial secrecy. In the year since it’s debut, the video has been viewed almost two million times. Watch below:

1. A Storm is Coming

In perhaps the most potent example of what investigative journalism and public outcry can do, this story looks at the case of Iceland’s former Prime Minister, who was forced to resign due to his involvement in the Panama Papers. The revelations about his connection to the investigation sparked mass protests in the country, eventually toppling the government.

Written by Christian Freymeyer

Christian is the FTC's Press & Digital Media Officer. Follow him on Twitter @cfreymeyer.

Image used under Creative Commons license / Flickr User Tatiana Travelways

Follow @FinTrCo