Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Panama Papers Leak: The Largest Data Leak In History?

Shown to be bigger than 2010 WikiLeaks or the Edward Snowden leak of 2013, is the Panama Papers Leak of the offshore law firm Mossack Fonseka the largest online data leak so far?

By: Ringo Bones 

Despite and online publication about it is currently being blocked by Baidu – The People’s Republic of China’s equivalent of Google and the only search engine permitted to function in Mainland China by the Beijing Communist Party – the Panama Papers Leak of the offshore law firm Mossack Fonseka is currently revealed to be the largest online data leak ever. It is larger, in fact, than the US diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks in 2010 and the secret intelligence documents given to journalists by former U.S. National Security Agency analyst Edward Snowden in 2013 – but actually, how big is it? 

There are 11.5 million documents and 2.6 terabytes – or about 260 gigabytes – of information drawn from Mossack Fonseca’s internal database. By way of comparison, the 2010 WikiLeaks only consisted of 1.76 gigabytes of data and the Edward Snowden revelations of 2013 is even much smaller in data size despite of the large-scale global political fallout. And because of its size, the Panama Papers Leak could be harder to cyber-censor because proxy sites are probably popping up all over the world-wide-web. The “Great Firewall of China” would be akin to using a sieve to plug a water leak.     

The records were first obtained from an anonymous source by the German newspaper Sϋddeutsche Zeitung, which shared them with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ). The ICIJ then shared them with a large network of international partners – including the Guardian and the BBC. The documents show the myriad ways in which the rich can exploit secretive offshore tax regimes. Twelve national leaders are among the 143 politicians, their families and close associates from around the world known to have been using offshore tax havens and a significant number of them are incumbent members and immediate families of the Beijing Communist Party. Ever since the news about the Panama Papers Leak went global, Baidu – The People’s Republic of China’s equivalent of Google and the only search engine authorized by the monolithic communist party to operate in Mainland China – had been blocking the story for frat that it may be just a “Western Plot” against the Beijing Communist Party.

A 2-billion US dollar trail leads all the way to Russian strongman Vladimir Putin via the Russian president’s best friend – a cellist named Sergei Roldugin – is at the center of a scheme in which money from the Russian state banks is hidden offshore. Some of it ends up in a ski resort where in 2013 Putin’s daughter Katerina got married. And despite the legality of the leaked documents, Russia’s official news agency had dismissed the revelations as a “Western plot” against Vladimir Putin. 

Among the other national leaders revealed by the Panama Papers Leak to have offshore wealth are Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, ex-interim prime minister and former vice-president of Iraq Ayad Alawi, president of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko, Alaa Mubarak – son of Egypt’s former president and the Prime Minister of Iceland, Sigmundur Davíỗ Gunnlsughsson. And what irked the international community most is on how Mossack Fonseca helped governments that are under imposed economic sanctions by the UN Security Council to still do business with impunity – like North Korea and Russia since the unlawful Donetsk Region annexation by the Putin regime.    

Mossack Fonseca is a Panama-based law firm whose services include incorporating companies in offshore jurisdictions such as the British Virgin Islands. It administers offshore firms for a yearly fee. Other services include wealth management. The firm is Panamanian but runs a worldwide operation. Its website boasts of a global network with 600 people working in 42 countries. It has franchises around the world, where separately owned affiliates sign up new customers and have exclusive rights to use its brand. Mossack Fonseca operates in tax havens including Switzerland, Cyprus and British Virgin Islands and in the British crown dependencies of Guernsey, Jersey and the Isle of Man. 

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