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The Panama Papers Reading List

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Panama Papers Wins Pulitzer Prize

The honor is a testament to the enterprise and teamwork of our staff and our partners here in the U.S. and around the world, ICIJ's director says.

Awards and recognition

The Panama Papers project, led by ICIJ and German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung working in collaboration with more than 100 media outlets, has been honored with awards and finalist mentions by more than a dozen major international prizes, including:

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Where Are They Now? A Year Later, Mixed Fortunes For Panama Papers Line-Up

One year after the Panama Papers first became an international catchphrase, here’s a globe-hopping update on the people and institutions caught up in the scandal.

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VIDEO: Twelve Months of Investigations, Impact and Outrage

A year ago the Panama Papers dominated newspaper headlines and brought now-iconic images to TV screens around the world. Since then, investigations have continued and outrage has grown.

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Panama Prosecutor Claims 'Solid Case' Against Mossack Fonseca

The law firm at the heart of the Panama Papers affair, sold shell companies and held bank accounts that were used to help conceal bribes paid across South America, a Panamanian prosecutor alleged at a press conference.

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Founders of Panama Papers Law Firm Arrested on Money Laundering Charges

Police in Panama arrested the founders of Mossack Fonseca, the law firm at the center of the Panama Papers scandal, on money laundering charges Thursday after authorities raided the firm’s headquarters as part of investigations into Brazil’s largest-ever bribery scandal.

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Tax Agencies Draw Up ‘Target List’ of Offshore Enablers

Tax agencies from 30 countries convened in Paris this week to take part in the largest ever simultaneous exchange of tax information and to share results and details on thousands of investigations sparked by the Panama Papers.

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Panama’s Revolving Door Shows Global Challenge of Offshore Reform

In a country where top-drawer lawyers move freely between high government posts and law firms selling secrecy-cloaked shell companies, bringing lasting change to the offshore industry is a challenge.

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Journalists Hang Tough in Face of Backlash Against Panama Papers Reporting

Reporters have faced consequences both in nations where media crackdowns are common and also in nations with reputations for high levels of press freedom.

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Panama Papers Have Had Historic Global Effects — and the Impacts Keep Coming

The investigation has produced an almost daily drumbeat of regulatory moves, follow-up stories and calls by politicians and activists for more action to combat offshore financial secrecy.

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BVI Hits Mossack Fonseca With Largest Fine Ever After Panama Papers Investigation

The $440,000 penalty followed a six-month investigation which included on-site compliance inspections and the appointment of an officer to monitor Mossack Fonseca's operations.

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Experts Who Quit Panama's Transparency Commission Produce Their Own Report

Report's authors say that the U.S. and EU have the power to force other nations to embrace transparency reforms by threatening to cut off access to their financial systems.

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Pakistan's PM Responds to Supreme Court Hearing on Panama Papers

Nawaz Sharif defended himself before the nation’s highest court, as opposition supporters celebrated in Islamabad.

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Panama Hires PR Firm Amid Ongoing Panama Papers Fallout

A PR firm is being paid $50,000 a month to help the Panama government, while arrests, protests and more continue around the world.

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Hedge Fund Sues Mossack Fonseca For Alleged Obstruction of Justice in Nevada

Confidential emails revealed in the Panama Papers have opened a new front in a bitter court battle in Nevada involving a hedge fund led by an American billionaire, new court filings show.

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Experts Quit Panama's Transparency Committee Over Lack of Transparency

The committee was established in the wake of the Panama Papers to probe Panama's financial services industry, but now two out of three international members have resigned.

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Continent of Secrets: Uncovering Africa's Offshore Empires

Africa receives $50 billion of foreign aid money annually, but then loses roughly the same amount through illicit outflows. Can you uncover Africa's offshore empires? Play now!

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Secret Offshore Deals Deprive Africa of Billions in Natural Resource Dollars

The Panama Papers show how politicians and mining, oil and gas interests benefit from secrecy and dubious multimillion dollar transfers.

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Secret Documents Expose Nigerian Oil Mogul’s Offshore Hideaways

A dealmaker’s backstage maneuverings are revealed in the Panama Papers as he hung with celebrities while criminal investigators closed in.

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Diamond Mine with Offshore Ties Leaves Trail of Complaints

The Panama Papers reveal a network of shell companies linked to a mining operation that has been accused of environmental harms and unpaid taxes.

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Out of Africa, Into Tax Havens

As visitors come to see what’s in Africa, some safari operators’ profits head offshore.

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Reporters Warned, Inquiries Opened as African Nations Respond to Panama Papers

Mossack Fonseca targeted clients in Africa for business, but now some of those clients have become targets themselves as authorities launch investigations into the Panama Papers revelations.

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Panama Papers Credited As New EU Anti Money-Laundering And Tax Abuse Rules Proposed

The European Commission has announced it will tighten the European Union’s anti-money laundering rules and increase transparency requirements for companies and trusts.

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Venezuela and Panama To Launch Joint Panama Papers Investigation

The joint investigation will be the "first of its kind," and Venezuela's attorney general has hinted at a long list of suspects.

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European Inquiry to Call UK Chancellor, Mossack Fonseca to Testify

A special 65-member Panama Papers committee of inquiry has been created by the European parliament to investigate potential wrongdoing exposed by ICIJ's investigation.

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Mossack Fonseca's US Operations Under Pressure, Island Offices Closed

Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca’s local affiliate in Nevada has resigned from more than 1,000 companies and paid a penalty to the state amid investigations on multiple fronts.

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US States Under Pressure As World Pushes For Financial Transparency

Nevada, Wyoming and Delaware are facing growing pressure over their lack of corporate transparency, as the United States and the international community continue to respond to fallout from the Panama Papers.

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The Malefactors of Mossack Fonseca

Meet The Dutchman, the Queen of the South, the Boss of Bosses and other convicted felons and alleged wrongdoers who have benefited from services provided by the law firm.

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Panama Papers Include Dozens of Americans Tied to Fraud and Financial Misconduct

Mossack Fonseca's files include offshore companies linked to at least 36 Americans accused of serious financial wrongdoing, including fraud and racketeering.

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Beyond Panama: Unlocking the world’s secrecy jurisdictions

The 21 jurisdictions covered by the Panama Papers data vary from the rolling hills of Wyoming to tropical getaways like the British Virgin Islands. But all have at least one thing in common - secrecy is the rule.

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Panama Papers Source Offers Documents To Governments, Hints At More To Come

The anonymous whistleblower behind the Panama Papers has conditionally offered to make the documents available to government authorities.

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US Officials React to Panama Papers Disclosures With Get-Tough Proposals

The Obama administration has proposed a national registry documenting the real owners of shell companies and other measures aimed at fighting offshore chicanery.

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Iceland’s First Lady Linked to Offshore Investments

Records in the Panama Papers and the Swiss Leaks leaked files tie the wife of Iceland President Ólafur Grímsson to offshore companies and accounts.

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Coming Soon: ICIJ to Release Panama Papers Offshore Companies Data

The database, to be released on May 9, will likely be the largest ever release of secret offshore companies and the people behind them.

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Cartel-Linked Suspects Arrested After Panama Papers Revelations

Uruguayan prosecutors are seeking to bring to trial at least five individuals detained on suspicion of laundering money for a powerful Mexican drug cartel.

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US Prosecutor Opens Investigation Into 'Panama Papers Matters'

ICIJ welcomes the interest from the Manhattan U.S. Attorney's office, but has made it clear it won't be turning over its data or taking part in any investigation.

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Banks Ordered to Provide Info on Panama Dealings to NY Regulator

More than a dozen banks identified in the Panama Papers investigation have been asked to hand over details of their communications with Mossack Fonseca.

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Art held offshore

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Pakistan's PM Leaves Country, Spanish Minister Resigns

Nawaz Sharif faces growing pressure and calls for his resignation, a Spanish minister has stepped aside, and more governments are pledging reform as fallout from the Panama Papers revelations continues.

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Panama Police Raid Mossack Fonseca As Global Fallout Continues

The search of Mossack Fonseca's Panama headquarters comes after a number of raids and official action taken in response to the Panama Papers revelations.

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Global joint investigation to be proposed at special tax meeting

Tax officials from 28 nations met in Paris to develop a strategy for collaborative action based on Panama Papers revelations.

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British PM Announces New Transparency Measures Following Panama Papers Revelations

David Cameron appeared before parliament on Monday to address concerns about his own links to offshore holdings revealed in the Panama Papers, as well as announce reform aimed at boosting transparency.

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The Art of Secrecy

Locked in the files of a Panama law firm are the answers to mysteries involving Van Goghs, Picassos, Rembrandts and other masterworks.

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Panama Papers Spark High-Level FIFA Resignation and Swiss Police Raid

Swiss police searched the office of Europe's top soccer association and a member of FIFA's ethics panel resigned following Panama Papers revelations.

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Leaked Files Offer Many Clues To Offshore Dealings by Top Chinese

Eight current and former members of the Politburo Standing Committee, the country's top decision makers, have relatives with secret offshore companies.

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Spies and Shadowy Allies Lurk in Secret With Help From Offshore Firm

Firm helps CIA operatives and other characters — real or fanciful — from the world of espionage set up offshore companies to obscure their dealings.

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Iceland Prime Minister Tenders Resignation Following Panama Papers Revelations

The prime minister of Iceland said he would resign following mass protests triggered by reports from ICIJ and partners that he had owned an offshore company in the British Virgin Islands with his wife.

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Law Firm’s Files Include Dozens of Companies and People Blacklisted by U.S. Authorities

Global law firm’s customers include suspected financiers of terrorism, nuclear weapons proliferators and gunrunners.

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How Family that Runs Azerbaijan Built an Empire of Hidden Wealth

Documents peel away three layers of secret ownership in a conglomerate and lead to gold mines and overseas real estate.

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Global Banks Team with Law Firms To Help the Wealthy Hide Assets

Leaked records show that hundreds of banks and their subsidiaries and branches registered nearly 15,600 shell companies.

About this project

The Panama Papers is an unprecedented investigation that reveals the offshore links of some of the globe’s most prominent figures.

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All Putin’s Men: Secret Records Reveal Money Network Tied to Russian Leader

Complex offshore financial deals channel money and power towards a network of people and companies linked to President Vladimir Putin.

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Giant Leak of Offshore Financial Records Exposes Global Array of Crime and Corruption

Millions of documents show heads of state, criminals and celebrities using secret hideaways in tax havens.

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Panamanian Law Firm Is Gatekeeper To Vast Flow of Murky Offshore Secrets

Files show client roster that includes drug dealers, Mafia members, corrupt politicians and tax evaders — and wrongdoing galore.

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Leak Ties Ethics Guru to Three Men Charged in FIFA Scandal

Secret documents show how deeply the world of soccer has become enmeshed in the world of offshore havens.

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Iceland’s Prime Minister Ducks Question But the Answer Catches Up with Him

He came to power after the country’s financial collapse while hiding his offshore holdings of millions in bonds from Icelandic banks.

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How the One Percenters Divorce: Offshore Intrigue Plays Hide and Seek with Millions

Firm that practices no matrimonial law nonetheless plays big role when the superrich around the globe decide to split.

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Panama Police Raid Mossack Fonseca As Global Fallout Continues

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Panama’s national police raided the Panama City headquarters of law firm Mossack Fonseca late Tuesday, looking for evidence that “would establish the possible use of the firm for illicit activities,” as they said in a statement.

The police, under the direction of prosecutor Javier Caravallo, who specializes in organized crime and money laundering, surrounded the headquarters building and raided other branches as well. According to the Financial Times, the operation was still underway eight hours after it began.

The action was part of the continuing fallout from publication of the Panama Papers, an investigation into 11.5 million documents spanning 40 years of operations by the firm, one of the world’s largest wholesalers of shell companies. Usually set up in a manner that makes it hard to know who controls them and existing almost only on paper, shell companies may be used for lawful purposes but have also figured frequently in money laundering, tax evasion, bribery, drug dealing and other crimes.

“We’re the ones against whom a crime has been committed,” the law firm said in a statement published on its website. It added that the company is “ready, willing and eager to cooperate with authorities.”

The raids came at a time when Panama’s President Juan Carlos Varela has taken several actions in response to the revelations about the firm, whose co-founder Ramon Mossack was one of his top advisers until his recent resignation.

Earlier in April, Varela announced the creation of an international panel to improve transparency in Panama’s economically important offshore financial industry. He also published an op-ed piece in the New York Times, decrying the emphasis on Panama which he said “does not deserve to be singled out on an issue that plagues many countries,” adding that Panama is “willing to accept the responsibility for fixing it, in part because greater transparency is ultimately a continuation of reforms we have recently undertaken.

On Tuesday before the raids, Panama warned France that it would take unspecified diplomatic measures if Panama is not removed from a blacklist of tax havens.

The Panama raid followed several other police actions related to investigations in other countries:

  • French prosecutors disclosed they had searched the offices of Societe Generale last week in an attempt to identify holders of offshore companies set up by the bank through Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca.
  • Peruvian authorities seized documents from the Lima office of Mossack Fonseca on Monday in case they were needed in possible investigations. A team of 20 officers carried out the operation in the Panama law firm’s offices in the exclusive San Isidro neighborhood on behalf of the National Tax Administration.
  • El Salvador’s top prosecutor oversaw a raid on the Mossack Fonseca & Co. offices in that country after noticing that the sign over the office had been removed, said attorney general Douglas Melendez. Computers were seized and employees interviewed, but no one was detained.

In other countries, though, journalists, not Mossack Fonseca, were the focus of authorities’ gaze. Some of ICIJ’s Ecuadoran partner journalists were threatened and insulted by Ecuador’s president.

President Rafael Correa took to Twitter to argue for a complete release of the Panama Papers. “The ‘selective’ fight against corruption is only more corruption!,” he tweeted. ICIJ has declined to allow wholesale access to its database because it contains information about private individuals for whom there is no public interest argument for exposure.

Correa also tweeted the names and Twitter accounts of six Ecuadorian journalists who were part of the project, triggering a wave of threats and insults via Twitter.

The Ecuadorian Council of Citizen Participation and Social Control, an arm of the Ecuadoran government, also said that it has identified the journalists who were part of the Panama Papers and will demand all the information in order to conduct their own investigations.

ICIJ published an FAQ about the project explaining that ICIJ doesn’t share documents with governments.

Fundamedios, a local non-government organization that defends free press in Ecuador, has demanded the Ecuadorian government stop its campaign of intimaidation against journalists who investigated the Panama Papers.

Correa also tweeted that journalists “spent almost a year looking for something against the Ecuadorian government and didn’t find anything.”

Galo Chiriboga, Ecuador’s General Attorney who has a company connected to Mossack Fonseca said to El Universo that his office will follow the Panama Papers leads and that revelations could help with existing investigations as well as open new ones. He said he declared the shares of the Panamanian company created in 1999 Madrigal Finance Corp., when he became General Attorney in 2011.

The offices of a consulting firm that served in Ecuador as intermediary between Mossack Fonseca and a Chinese company to evade taxes, revealed as part of the Panama Papers Ecuadorian stories by ICIJ partners, were raided on Tuesday by the General Attorney’s office. Ecuadorian Parliament also announced that they were going to open an investigation based on the Panama Papers.

In Venezuela journalists who investigated the Panama Papers have also been targeted by state-owned media, which accused them of selectively reporting on revelations connected to the administration of the late President Hugo Chavez.

Reporter Ahiana Figueroa, who wrote a story about an ex-banker who used Mossack Fonseca to register companies in offshore jurisdictions while he was under investigation in Venezuela, was fired by her news organization Grupo Últimas Noticias for being part of the Panama Papers Venezuelan team. Her story was published in a microsite created by a group of Venezuelan journalists, some who work for other media outlets and others who are freelancers. Many of them resigned from traditional media outlets when ownership changed and their independence was threatened, and went on to create their own media outlets which came together for the Panama Papers investigation.

The Press and Society Institute of Venezuela (IPYS Venezuela) a local non-governmental organization that promotes press freedom in the country generated an alert about the threats received by Venezuelan journalists after the publication of the Panama Papers and denounced the Venezuelan Ministry of Communications and Information for sending an email to media outlets about how to cover the Panama Papers that included phrases disparaaging the investigation, the journalists and the media that were part of it. IPYS Venezuela said these incidents violate the right of free press and information.

The Venezuelan attorney general and parliament have announced that they will investigate Panama Paper revelations connected to Venezuela.

In Tunisia, suspected hackers brought down the website of ICIJ’s partner, Inkyfada, shortly after the publication of a story that claimed to detail an offshore company of Moshen Marzouk, a former political advisor to Tunisia’s president and the founder of a political party.

Reporters Without Borders condemned the cyber-attack on Inkyfada, noting that Tunisia is ranked 126 out of 180 in terms of freedom of the press.

Marzouk has since threatened to sue Inkyfada for defamation despite Inkyfada’s claims that it sought repeated comment from the politician. Although Marzouk was reported in Huffington Post Maghreb as having confirmed from two “sources within ICIJ” that his name was not among the 11.5 million documents, ICIJ has had no such contact.

Contributors to this story: Will Fitzgibbon

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