It’s too much. The sheer volume of the Panama Papers may make its message indigestible — 2.6 terabytes of data? Of accounting data? It’s not exactly the kind of thing I’m going to crack open to read before bedtime.
But this summary of the initial disclosures is helpful.
* Twelve national leaders are among 143 politicians, their families and close associates from around the world known to have been using offshore tax havens.
* A $2bn trail leads all the way to Vladimir Putin. The Russian president’s best friend – a cellist called Sergei Roldugin – is at the centre of a scheme in which money from Russian state banks is hidden offshore. Some of it ends up in a ski resort where in 2013 Putin’s daughter Katerina got married.
* Among national leaders with offshore wealth are Nawaz Sharif, Pakistan’s prime minister; Ayad Allawi, ex-interim prime minister and former vice-president of Iraq; Petro Poroshenko, president of Ukraine; Alaa Mubarak, son of Egypt’s former president; and the prime minister of Iceland, Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson.
* Six members of the House of Lords, three former Conservative MPs and dozens of donors to UK political parties have had offshore assets. The families of at least eight current and former members of China’s supreme ruling body, the politburo, have been found to have hidden wealth offshore.
* Twenty-three individuals who have had sanctions imposed on them for supporting the regimes in North Korea, Zimbabwe, Russia, Iran and Syria have been clients of Mossack Fonseca. Their companies were harboured by the Seychelles, the British Virgin Islands, Panama and other jurisdictions.
* A key member of Fifa’s powerful ethics committee, which is supposed to be spearheading reform at world football’s scandal-hit governing body, acted as a lawyer for individuals and companies recently charged with bribery and corruption.
That’s just the early disclosures as people start wading through it all. There are rumors that some Americans are going to be implicated in the corruption, too…just give them time.
Another factor that may make this fizzle, besides the overwhelming volume, is that nobody is going to be surprised by any of it. Are any of you at all surprised that rich and influential people of the world are also sleazy, rotten, tax cheats?