Exactly a year ago, the world received shocking news. The Panama Papers investigation leaked the names of a few influential people who were secretly stashing cash in their offshore accounts.
Earlier this month, the Panama Paper investigations has rightly won the Pulitzer prize. The prize was given to International Consortium of Investigative Journalists along with two US titles McClathy and the Miami Herald. The judges cited a few stories from the investigation and commended the collaboration of over 300 journalists on six continents to expose the unknown infrastructure and global scale of offshore tax havens of the rich and the famous.
It all began when two German journalists, Bastian Obermayer and Frederik Obermaier, received a message from an unknown man asking if they would be interested in the data. The “John Doe” provided confidential emails and internal files of the Panamian law firm, Mossack Fonseca, which specializes in setting up secret offshore companies and accounts.
— Bastian Obermayer (@b_obermayer) April 3, 2016
What followed was the biggest ever collaboration among journalists in more than 80 countries and lasted for over an year. The German company, Süddeutsche Zeitung, shared the papers with ICIJ who gave the media access to the Panama Papers.
The leak stirred up the community of the rich and the famous. Some of the names in the papers were of David Cameron who had an account in his father, Ian Cameron’s offshore fund. Iceland’s Prime Minister, Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson, was forced to quit after the papers featured his name and the details of offshore accounts. It also had name of Azerbaijan’s president and his daughters and several political leaders from China and Russia. Indians in the list included Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan and Aishwarya Rai, KP Singh of DLF and Vinod Adani.