WikiLeaks was big. 'Panama Papers' is bigger

04 April 2016

George Bull

It’s difficult to overestimate the significance of the documents leaked from Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca, although many questions still remain as to how such a large volume of data came into the possession of individuals outside the law firm, and whether that data will be admissible evidence in the tax and other investigations which are certain to follow.

Although Mossack Fonseca is apparently not the largest organisation providing services of this type to clients – it is said that there are at least three larger organisations – it’s the progressive outlawing of bearer shares and other structures from many jurisdictions which has resulted in a concentration of activity in relatively few jurisdictions. Panama is one of those.

The geographical concentration does of course represent a significant risk for those using these services, whether or not they are guilty of tax evasion, money laundering or other criminal activities. As the supply of these services begins to dry up, this destruction of the walls of confidentiality is all the more significant for those who have sought to hide their financial affairs from prying eyes.

It’s too early yet to see where all this will lead although it will inevitably have a massive impact on the way ordinary citizens view those who may be perceived to have wealth, power and influence. This is something which we touched on in our weekly tax brief last week. Who knows where this will end?

In our two pieces that follow, my colleagues Andrew Hubbard and Mike Down dig down into two of the many detailed aspects of this development.

If you would like any more information on this issue please contact George Bull or your usual RSM contact.