The recent unveiling of over eleven thousand documents have members of the news media buzzing. The content of these documents incriminate many of the world's most powerful leaders and nefarious criminals. No one knows the identity of the whistleblower who leaked these materials, but their actions have set off a series of intense investigations that could have far-reaching implications.
They're the Panama Papers, and they reveal the offshore accounts of everyone from the, now Ex-Prime Minister of Iceland to the world's most notorious drug traffickers. Panama Papers: The Shady World of Offshore Companies sets out to investigate the questionable dealings of Mossack Fonseca, the firm which handles each of the more than 214,000 accounts detailed in the documents, as well as the potentially illegal activities of its clientele.
A great number of these offshore accounts were set up to establish a tax haven for the wealthy. In some cases, they're suspected of being used to hide more sinister enterprises such as money laundering and the funding of terrorist organizations.
Headed by Jurgen Mossack, who is described in the film as "a lawyer without a conscience", Mossack Fonseca is a firm based out of Panama, and they provide tax shelters to a wide variety of businesses and individuals throughout the globe. The film follows a team of over a hundred investigative journalists as they work in collaboration to unveil the depths of their operation. In the process, they uncover a series of shady practices. One example involves a company called Elite Industrial Holdings. After purchasing a piece of the popular Olympia typewriter business, Elite placed its holdings in an offshore account hosted by Mossack Fonseca. This account provided them great financial flexibility, and the ability to avoid paying out over five million dollars that they owed to the company's loyal retirees.
This is just the top of iceberg. Produced in Germany, where the story first originated, Panama Papers: The Shady World of Offshore Companies also exposes ties to Vladimir Putin and British Prime Minister David Cameron. The film shows us the ease with which anyone of means can open their own offshore account, and calls for enhanced accountability for those who have indulged in tax evasion under the cloak of anonymity for far too long.