The leak of the Panama Papers, 11.5 million confidential documents with detailed information about over 200,000 offshore companies, was illegally disclosed by an unnamed source who had access to the Panama-based Mossack Fonseca law firm. The leaked documents reveal how wealthy businessmen, including public officials from a number of countries, hid their money from the public eye using a complex system of offshore companies, banks, law firms and other third parties.
FACT #1. Mossack Fonseca not only set up fake companies but also created fake email accounts for their clients that cost these people as much as $10,000 a year.
Harry Potter: Did you the receive funds?
Mossack Fonseca: Dear Harry, your £25,000 was received.
FACT #2. One of the two founders of the law firm was Ramon Fonseca, a Panama-based award-winning novelist.
Contrary to what his firm does, as a young man, Fonseca wanted to save the world. In his two award-winning novels, La Danza de las Mariposas ("The Dance of the Butterflies") and Soñar con la Ciudad ("The City of Dreams"), the author addressed the issues of morality, inequality and the struggles of the poor as a result of capitalism.
FACT #3. The scandal has tarnished the name of the Latin American nation, as in most countries the leak has already become strongly associated with Panama. Since the #PanamaPapers went viral on social media, residents of Panama are trying to push for the use of the #mossackfonsecapapers.
"Our country isn't the only one that has problems with tax evasion. Many other countries do too," the president of Panama, Juan Carlos Varela, said, as cited by Svenska Dagbladet.
FACT #4. To reveal classified documents to the public, investigating journalists had to work akin to spies. But it so happened that Mossack Fonseca also liked the spy theme, especially the James Bond movies.
When opening shell companies (not to be confused with the Royal Dutch Shell oil company), the law firm repeatedly used names and words associated with the James Bond movies, including Goldfinger, Skyfall, Goldeneye, Moonraker, Specter and Blofeld.
FACT #5. When every media outlet in the world was talking about the Mossack Fonseca scandal, Jurgen Mossack, one of the two founders of the Panama law firm, came in defense of his company.
The creation of 240,000 shell companies wasn't a mistake, well maybe only in some cases, Fonseca said, adding that his company will continue to do what it does.
"We aren't planning on shutting down our activities and instead growing bananas or something," Mossack said, as cited by the Swedish newspaper.
FACT #6. Although there is a long list of foreign public figures and celebrities involved in the Mossack Fonseca scandal, there are very few US citizens. It certainly doesn't mean that Americans don't use offshore firms to hide their money, but because they prefer to use their own firms within the US territory, Svenska Dagbladet said.
WikiLeaks thinks that the Panama Papers leak was funded by the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and George Soros' Open Society Foundation as an information attack against Russia. That's why it doesn't have many US names in there.
FACT #7. Mossack Fonseca is the fourth-largest law firm in the world that specializes in setting up shell companies. The largest firm of that kind is OIL (previously known as Incorporations Ltd) based in Hong Kong.
According to the Economist, OIL takes up 10 percent of all the shell companies' business market. All of its companies are located in the British Virgin Islands from where OIL sets up around 10,000 shell companies a year.