The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) is to release a new searchable database with information on more than 200,000 offshore entities that are part of the 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.
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 leak, and its media partners said that it will continue to investigate and publish stories in the weeks and months to come.
These will also including several new outlets in countries where ICIJ has not yet been able to report.
The data was leaked from Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca, a key player in the offshore world, and includes information about companies, trusts, foundations and funds incorporated in 21 tax havens, from Hong Kong to Nevada in the United States. It links to people in more than 200 countries and territories and has rocked the world.
Among the revelations from the data leak, the Icelandic prime minister was forced to resign and there have been calls for British prime minister David Cameron to follow suit, after he admitted benefitting from a Panama-based offshore trust set up by his late father.
Once live, the ICIJ said that the database will allow users to “search 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 ICIJ’s 2013 investigation into offshore leaks.
The ICIJ said that while the database will open up a world of infraction that has “never been revealed on such a massive scale”, the application will not be a “data dump” of the original documents. Instead it believes it will be “a careful release” of basic corporate information.
The ICIJ also said that the database will not release personal data en masse or include records of bank accounts and financial transactions, emails and other correspondence, passports and telephone numbers.
The ICIJ, a non-profit organisation that relies heavily on charitable foundations and on financial support from the public, said that the decision that this selected and limited information is being published is “in the public interest”.
This article was first published on International Investment.