The international news media have been preoccupied by a new financial scandal as of late. Their stories focus around the Panama Papers, a set of leaked documents which reveal the identities of over 200,000 companies, trusts, foundations, criminals, world leaders, and other figures of wealth and influence who keep great sums of their money hidden in offshore accounts. Calling upon the talents of highly skilled investigative journalists across the world, the new documentary The Panama Papers: Secrets of the Super Rich probes the contents of these documents in an effort to unravel a complex tapestry of suspicious financial activity.
These 11 million documents all originate from a single source: Mossack Fonseca, or MossFon for short, a Panamanian-based corporate law firm that provides convenient tax havens for the wealthiest entities across the globe. While some of their clients operate within the boundaries of the law and utilize the company's services for legitimate purposes, many others do not. Offenders include Rami Makhlouf, the richest man in Syria and a chief financial backer of the oppressive Assad regime, and Marlorry Chacon Rossell, a high-profile Guatemalan cocaine trafficker. Mobsters, money launderers, arms dealers, terrorist enablers and other wealthy criminals work with MossFon to set up dummy companies as a shelter from public scrutiny, allowing them to continue their operations without the fear of leaving a traceable money trail.
The realm of politics also plays a key role in the scandal. World leaders are counted among MossFon's most notable clientele, including the Prime Ministers of Iceland and Saudi Arabia. Others have relatives with close ties to the firm such as the father of British Prime Minster David Cameron. Inconveniently, Cameron is one of the leading figures in the fight against these questionable financial operations.
To what extent is MossFon aware of their client's criminal activities and motives, and at what point is the firm itself veering into illegality? That's one of the central points of contention explored in the documentary, and it's a dilemma that has few easy or concrete answers. Produced by ABC Australia, The Panama Papers: Secrets of the Super Rich mounts an ambitious investigation of awesome scope, and successfully scratches the surface of an intriguing scandal which will continue to develop for some time to come.