The enormous bundle of 11.5 million documents exposing hundreds of thousands of companies and individuals is online as a searchable database with interactive visualization depicting links between persons, companies and countries.
According to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), an organization which, until today, had sole access to the documents, the database reveals the names of the real owners of many shell companies.
The website opens with a disclaimer, noting that there not all people and organizations on the list use tax havens illegally. The statement also mentions that many people have similar names, and recommends diligent ID validation.
The documents, revealing some 360,000 names of companies and people, were extracted and leaked by an unknown source from a database owned by the Mossack Fonseca law firm. The firm, which has chosen to continue practicing, claims it was hacked.
Mossack Fonseca issued a cease-and-desist order on Thursday to the journalist group, claiming that revealing the information publicly is a violation of attorney-client privilege. The ICIJ, however, published the information, claiming it is acting in the ‘public interest.'
Tax havens, of which Panama is widely known, are often used to conceal wealth and, of course, evade taxes. Reporting based on the documents caused swift fall-out for some of the prominent clients around the globe — including the resignation of Iceland's prime minister.