The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) is to unveil a searchable database next month, which it says will contain information on more than 200,000 offshore entities that emerged as part of its so-called Panama Papers investigation.
The database, set to go live on 9 May, is likely to be the largest-ever release of information about secret offshore companies and the people behind them, the ICIJ said.
In the run-up to the database launch there is expected to be a further flood of revelations as the ICIJ, and the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung – which originally received the 1.5 million leaked confidential documents from leaked Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca – and their media partners continue to publish material based on their findings, the ICIJ said in a statement.
These will also including several new outlets in countries where ICIJ has not yet been able to report.
As reported, the ICIJ’s investigation has led to high profile resignations around the world, including that of the prime minister of Iceland; triggered official inquiries in numerous countries; and put pressure on world leaders and other politicians to explain their connections to offshore companies. It has also sparked a global discussion about how tax evasion loopholes might be closed, and how information about the owners of shell companies might be made public.
The Mossack Fonseca data includes information about companies, trusts, foundations and funds incorporated in 21 jurisdictions ranging from Hong Kong to the US state of Nevada. It links to people in more than 200 countries and territories and has rocked the world.
The ICIJ said that once it’s live, its database will enable users to search through its data and “visualise the networks around thousands of offshore entities, including, when possible, Mossack Fonseca’s internal records of the company’s true owners”.
The interactive database will also include information about more than 100,000 additional companies that were part of the 2013 ICIJ Offshore Leaks investigation, the ICIJ said in a statement on its website.
However, while its database may open up “a world that has never been revealed on such a massive scale”, the ICIJ said it would not be a simple “data dump” of the original documents or personal data, but rather, “a careful release of basic corporate information”.
Records of bank accounts and financial transactions, emails and other correspondence, passports and telephone numbers also won’t be included, the ICIJ said.
The ICIJ is a US-based, non-profit organisation that relies heavily on charitable foundations and on financial support from the public. It said its decision to publish the data obtained from the leaked Mossack Fonseca documents was made “in the public interest”.