The release of the “Panama Papers” has prompted German politicians to renew calls to crack down on international tax evasion and money laundering by creating a “national transparency register” for offshore shell companies. But German banks named in the papers, including Deutsche Bank and Berenberg Bank, defended their actions. They say dealings with offshore transactions are above board and tightly monitored.
The Munich-based newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung gained access to what it said was a trove of documents relating to a Panamanian law firm that specialized in setting up anonymous offshore financial deals. The data was shared with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, and media outlets worldwide published the findings on Sunday.
The information haul, which the newspaper said had been leaked by an unknown source, contains 11.5 million documents, some dating back nearly 40 years, and details the activities of 214,000 offshore firms set up in Panama.
Among the individuals named in the documents are associates of Russian president Vladimir Putin, the prime ministers of Iceland and the Ukraine, global sports stars and senior members of FIFA, soccer’s governing body.
With 2.6 terabytes of data, the leak is far larger than comparable releases by Wikileaks in 2010, or the 2014 LuxLeaks revelations about Luxembourg’s tax policy.