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The biggest data leak in history has just landed loads of politicians in hot water

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David Cornish
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This is it - the story that will be making headlines for rest of 2016.

Eleven million documents have been leaked detailing the confidential offshore banking activity of politicians, millionaires and athletes, exposing elite tax havens and corrupt tax evasion in the largest data leak of all time.

Roughly 2.6 terabytes (a lot) of documents, known as the Panama Papers, originate from the small, clandestine Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca. The result of a collaborative effort by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, the leaked documents were obtained by German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung after a whistleblower at the firm had sold information to the authorities. They detail some 11 million individual records of high profile figures, dating back 40 years - including the activities of 72 current or former heads of state.

Some fairly significant names have already been linked although the actual implications of the Panama Papers won't be known for many weeks due to the masses of information released - it's going to take teams of investigators some time to work through it all to find out exactly who's been doing what and when. Much of the data details perfectly legal offshore accounts - but raises questions of where the cash has come from, whether it's been laundered and the amount of tax dodged in keeping it offshore.

These are just some of the figures landed in hot water by the papers.

  • The biggest data leak in history has just landed loads of politicians in hot water

    Vladimir Putin

    While President Putin isn't thought to be mentioned directly, the BBC has details that a billion-dollar money laundering ring organised by a Russian bank involves close associates of President Putin.

  • The biggest data leak in history has just landed loads of politicians in hot water 1

    Prime minister of Iceland Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson

    The documents show that the prime minister of Iceland had an undeclared interest in his country's bailed-out banks, potentially hiding millions of dollars of investments behind a secretive offshore company.

  • The biggest data leak in history has just landed loads of politicians in hot water 2

    Argentine President Mauricio Macri

    Macri apparently failed to declare his connection to a trading company with moeny held in offshore accounts when he was mayor of Buenos Aires. While he did declare interests and investments, he supposedly failed to specify their source or location.

  • The biggest data leak in history has just landed loads of politicians in hot water 3

    Ian Cameron, deceased father of David Cameron

    Influential in the formation of Blairmore Holdings Inc. in Panama in 1982, Business Insider details that promotional literature noted the fund was "not liable to taxation on its income or capital gains" and that the fund "will not be subject to United Kingdom corporation tax or income tax on its profits". 

  • The biggest data leak in history has just landed loads of politicians in hot water 4

    Lionel Messi

    Documents suggest that Lionel Messi is linked to a shell holding company, Mega Star Enterprises, that was previously unknown to Spanish investigators probing the Argentine's tax affairs.

  • The biggest data leak in history has just landed loads of politicians in hot water 5

    FIFA

    The footballing body FIFA could be plunged back into crisis after the documents reveal extensive links between Uruguayan lawyer Juan Pedro Damiani, a long-serving member of the FIFA ethics committee, and Eugenio Figueredo, a former senior vice-president accused of corruption. These professional links could seriously undermine the validity of FIFA's new ethics committee. 

    (Images: Rex)

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David Cornish

Shortlist.com’s esteemed Tech Editor. David has a keen interest in video games, Star Wars and stuff that runs on batteries.

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