When I worked as a newspaper reporter, I sometimes had tips or leaks from people with ulterior motives. That didn’t deter me so long as the tips or leaks led to true information. I was aware, though, that what I was being steered to see might not be the whole story, and that it was important to think about whose axe was being ground.
Trillions of dollars—an enormous fraction ofthe world’s wealth—is concealed insecret accounts outside the jurisdiction of thenations of which the owners are citizens. It is invisible and inaccessible to criminal investigators, tax collectors, bill collectors and divorcing spouses.
Now the world has a glimpse of some of those secret accounts, thanks to a leak of documents from a Panamanian law firm, Mossack Fonseca, to a German daily newspaper, Sueddeutsche Zeitung. Mossack Fonseca specializes in registering corporations in tax havens. The leaked documents had information on more than 214,000 companies and 140 world leaders.
The staff of Sueddeutsche Zeitung and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists spent a year sifting through the leaked documents, and shared their information with other news organizations.
Interestingly few if any of the leaked documents implicated Americans or American corporations. Maybe Americans don’t happen to use Mossack Fonseca to register their…
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