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Project April 3, 2016

The Panama Papers: Victims of Offshore


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Leak of more than 11 million documents show heads of state, criminals and celebrities using secret hideaways in tax havens.

How do blacklisted companies accused of funneling resources into war zones continue to do business? How do criminals maintain companies behind a veil of secrecy? How do corporations try to dodge millions in taxes while impoverished governments struggle to provide citizens with basic health care?

Behind many major global scandals in recent decades has been one common thread: the shadowy world of offshore finance. The Panama Papers exposes the inner workings of this secretive industry through an investigation based on more than 11.5 million leaked records from a little-known but powerful law firm based in Panama: Mossack Fonseca.

The firm is a key player in a sprawling industry that the world's rich and powerful use to hide assets and skirt rules by setting up front companies in far-flung jurisdictions. The leaked files, obtained by reporters from German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung and shared with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and more than 100 other media partners, reveal an alarming list of clients involved in bribery, arms deals, tax evasion, financial fraud and drug trafficking.

Among the email chains, invoices and documents that make up The Panama Papers are often unseen victims. This animated video—created with support from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting—is part of a large multi-platform investigation that tells their story. The video was executive produced by Hamish Boland-Rudder, reported by Will Fitzgibbon, produced by Carrie Ching, and illustrated and animated by Arthur Jones.