A MASSIVE database of leaked documents relating to 200,000 secret offshore companies have been published online, including the details of Australian companies.
The Panama Papers database went live at 4.00am AEST this morning and identified a number of
Australian firms including nine “officers”, five “intermediaries”, including banks, and 1198 addresses.
Australia’s Taxation Office is investigating about 800 Australians in relation to the Panama Papers.
SEARCH THE PANAMA PAPERS DATABASE
The searchable database, built on just a portion of the documents leaked from Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca, reveals more than 360,000 names of individuals and companies behind the anonymous shell firms. Bank accounts, phone numbers and email addresses were left out of the database.
Not all the data, obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, was released this morning.
Investigative journalists mining the leaked data trove say Mossack Fonseca had ties to dozens of Americans accused of financial misconduct.
The ICIJ said one “longtime customer” of the firm was a US financier later sentence to 17 years in prison for fraud. It said the firm set up an offshore company used by six Americans accused of running a Ponzi scheme that cost middle-class Indonesians millions.
The ICIJ reported that the actions of Mossack Fonseca included setting up offshore companies for people who had brushes with the law.
Setting up an offshore company is not illegal. But they can be used to hide money from authorities. Mossack Fonseca has said it obeyed rules on vetting customers.
Panama’s president said the leak, which reveals the offshore secrets of the wealthy, is really the result of a behind-the-scenes fight of big global powers.
“It looks like internal politics and differences between the big powers is playing a role in how these issues are being handled,” President Juan Carlos Varela said.
“What I don’t think is good is that big powers that want to fight are using Panama as a territory for that fight. If they want to fight they should do so in their own countries, and not use our financial and fiscal system.”
Since news reports on the Panama Papers emerged in early April, Mr Varela and his government have been arguing that the tax-avoidance and money-laundering issues they raised were a global problem, and not just Panama’s.
“We are ready for whatever is published,” Mr Varela said. “The issue of these famous papers is a subject about the world financial system. It is not a Panama problem — it is a world problem.”
The anonymous source behind the leak recently revealed they obtained 11.5 million internal documents from Mossack Fonseca and provided it to Germany’s Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper.
“For the record, I do not work for any government or intelligence agency, directly or as a contractor, and I never have. My viewpoint is entirely my own,” whistleblower “John Doe” said.
The data has already highlighted the extent to which the rich and powerful use shell companies to hide money, and led to the resignation of Iceland’s prime minister.