The “Panama Papers” database went online on Monday, May 9, 2016 the largest ever release of secret offshore companies and the people behind them.
The data, collated by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), comes from the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca and includes information about companies, trusts, foundations and funds incorporated in 21 tax havens, from Hong Kong to Nevada in the United States.
How David Cameron’s father and other politicians were caught up in scandal
Revelations that the Prime Minister’s father had overseas investments sparked four days of disastrous crisis handling by Downing Street in April.
Mr Cameron eventually made a dramatic mea culpa that he previously held offshore investments with Panama-based Blairmore Holdings Limited – the fifth time Downing Street had issued a different response to the furore.
Twelve other national leaders are among 143 politicians, their families and close associates from around the world known to have been using offshore tax havens.
Celebrities among high-profile offshore investors
The Duchess of York’s chaotic offshore finances are among a host of well-known faces included in the data leak.
Sarah Ferguson, 56, expressed confusion in 2001 over who was running her interests in the British Virgin Islands, according to letters between her solicitor and Mossack Fonseca, the law firm at the centre of the scandal.
Simon Cowell, Paul Burrell and Heather Mills also get mentions.
What are the Panama Papers?
The 11 million documents were leaked from a Panamanian law firm called Mossack Fonseca.
They show how the company has helped clients launder money, dodge sanctions and evade tax.
The company says it has never been charged with criminal wrong-doing.
How can I access the data?
When the data is released at https://offshoreleaks.icij.org, users will be able to search individuals and organisations connected to thousands of offshore entities.
ICIJ says: “While the database opens up a world that has never been revealed on such a massive scale, the application will not be a “data dump” of the original documents – it will be a careful release of basic corporate information.
“ICIJ won’t release personal data en masse; the database will not include records of bank accounts and financial transactions, emails and other correspondence, passports and telephone numbers. The selected and limited information is being published in the public interest.”