The Panama Papers are being called the biggest journalistic leak in history. The scandal has shed light on the tax-avoidance practices of some of the richest and most famous people in the world.
Here’s what you need to know:
Two weeks ago 11.5 million files, or 2.6 terabytes, were leaked to German Newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung before being passed on to the International Consortium of Journalists. The consortium including 107 media outlets from around the world.
The leak was the largest and most complicated coordination of a simultaneous story release ever.
Who’s been implicated?
12 national leaders, 143 politicians, at least one movie star and two sportsmen. So far only a small number of people have been outed, according to the media release, based on notoriety or relevance. However, more are expected to come as the files are made public.
Ian Cameron, Father of British PM David Cameron
Vladimir Putin, Russian President
Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson, Iceland Prime Minister – resigned over the leak
Petro Poroshenko, Ukrainian President
Gianni Infantino, Fifa President
Nawaz Sharif, Pakistan prime minister
Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, United Arab Emirates President
Simon Cowell, Television producer
Willian Borges da Silva, Chelsea football player
Stanley Kubrick, filmmaker
Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York
Jackie Chan, movie star
Pedro Almodóvar, filmmaker
Sir Nick Faldo, golfer
Bobby Fischer, Chess grandmaster
Paul Burrell, Princess Diana’s butler
Heather Mills, Paul McCartney’s ex
Roksanda Ilincic, Serbian fashion designer
Sir Mark Thatcher, Margaret Thatcher’s son
Andy Cole, Former football player
What does this mean for New Zealand?
More than most would realise. New Zealand is mentioned in 60,000 documents, likely to do with the country having the laxest tax laws in all western democracies. Off-shore trusts are not taxed by the New Zealand government. Therefore, the Panama Papers has raised some serious questions about how New Zealand manages its tax laws and whether we are already a ‘tax haven’.
There is an argument that this isn’t necessarily a bad thing considering the financial business conducted in New Zealand as a result. However, the ethical dilemma of housing the world’s richest’ money is hard to shake.
Prime Minister John Key has called for an independent inquiry of New Zealand’s tax law as a result of the leak.