ICIJ · The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists

The Panama Papers Reading List

Introduction People Data Game

Panama Papers Wins Pulitzer Prize

The honor is a testament to the enterprise and teamwork of our staff and our partners here in the U.S. and around the world, ICIJ's director says.

Awards and recognition

The Panama Papers project, led by ICIJ and German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung working in collaboration with more than 100 media outlets, has been honored with awards and finalist mentions by more than a dozen major international prizes, including:


Where Are They Now? A Year Later, Mixed Fortunes For Panama Papers Line-Up

One year after the Panama Papers first became an international catchphrase, here’s a globe-hopping update on the people and institutions caught up in the scandal.


VIDEO: Twelve Months of Investigations, Impact and Outrage

A year ago the Panama Papers dominated newspaper headlines and brought now-iconic images to TV screens around the world. Since then, investigations have continued and outrage has grown.


Panama Prosecutor Claims 'Solid Case' Against Mossack Fonseca

The law firm at the heart of the Panama Papers affair, sold shell companies and held bank accounts that were used to help conceal bribes paid across South America, a Panamanian prosecutor alleged at a press conference.


Founders of Panama Papers Law Firm Arrested on Money Laundering Charges

Police in Panama arrested the founders of Mossack Fonseca, the law firm at the center of the Panama Papers scandal, on money laundering charges Thursday after authorities raided the firm’s headquarters as part of investigations into Brazil’s largest-ever bribery scandal.


Tax Agencies Draw Up ‘Target List’ of Offshore Enablers

Tax agencies from 30 countries convened in Paris this week to take part in the largest ever simultaneous exchange of tax information and to share results and details on thousands of investigations sparked by the Panama Papers.


Panama’s Revolving Door Shows Global Challenge of Offshore Reform

In a country where top-drawer lawyers move freely between high government posts and law firms selling secrecy-cloaked shell companies, bringing lasting change to the offshore industry is a challenge.


Journalists Hang Tough in Face of Backlash Against Panama Papers Reporting

Reporters have faced consequences both in nations where media crackdowns are common and also in nations with reputations for high levels of press freedom.


Panama Papers Have Had Historic Global Effects — and the Impacts Keep Coming

The investigation has produced an almost daily drumbeat of regulatory moves, follow-up stories and calls by politicians and activists for more action to combat offshore financial secrecy.


BVI Hits Mossack Fonseca With Largest Fine Ever After Panama Papers Investigation

The $440,000 penalty followed a six-month investigation which included on-site compliance inspections and the appointment of an officer to monitor Mossack Fonseca's operations.


Experts Who Quit Panama's Transparency Commission Produce Their Own Report

Report's authors say that the U.S. and EU have the power to force other nations to embrace transparency reforms by threatening to cut off access to their financial systems.


Pakistan's PM Responds to Supreme Court Hearing on Panama Papers

Nawaz Sharif defended himself before the nation’s highest court, as opposition supporters celebrated in Islamabad.


Panama Hires PR Firm Amid Ongoing Panama Papers Fallout

A PR firm is being paid $50,000 a month to help the Panama government, while arrests, protests and more continue around the world.


Hedge Fund Sues Mossack Fonseca For Alleged Obstruction of Justice in Nevada

Confidential emails revealed in the Panama Papers have opened a new front in a bitter court battle in Nevada involving a hedge fund led by an American billionaire, new court filings show.


Experts Quit Panama's Transparency Committee Over Lack of Transparency

The committee was established in the wake of the Panama Papers to probe Panama's financial services industry, but now two out of three international members have resigned.


Continent of Secrets: Uncovering Africa's Offshore Empires

Africa receives $50 billion of foreign aid money annually, but then loses roughly the same amount through illicit outflows. Can you uncover Africa's offshore empires? Play now!


Secret Offshore Deals Deprive Africa of Billions in Natural Resource Dollars

The Panama Papers show how politicians and mining, oil and gas interests benefit from secrecy and dubious multimillion dollar transfers.


Secret Documents Expose Nigerian Oil Mogul’s Offshore Hideaways

A dealmaker’s backstage maneuverings are revealed in the Panama Papers as he hung with celebrities while criminal investigators closed in.


Diamond Mine with Offshore Ties Leaves Trail of Complaints

The Panama Papers reveal a network of shell companies linked to a mining operation that has been accused of environmental harms and unpaid taxes.


Out of Africa, Into Tax Havens

As visitors come to see what’s in Africa, some safari operators’ profits head offshore.


Reporters Warned, Inquiries Opened as African Nations Respond to Panama Papers

Mossack Fonseca targeted clients in Africa for business, but now some of those clients have become targets themselves as authorities launch investigations into the Panama Papers revelations.


Panama Papers Credited As New EU Anti Money-Laundering And Tax Abuse Rules Proposed

The European Commission has announced it will tighten the European Union’s anti-money laundering rules and increase transparency requirements for companies and trusts.


Venezuela and Panama To Launch Joint Panama Papers Investigation

The joint investigation will be the "first of its kind," and Venezuela's attorney general has hinted at a long list of suspects.


European Inquiry to Call UK Chancellor, Mossack Fonseca to Testify

A special 65-member Panama Papers committee of inquiry has been created by the European parliament to investigate potential wrongdoing exposed by ICIJ's investigation.


Mossack Fonseca's US Operations Under Pressure, Island Offices Closed

Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca’s local affiliate in Nevada has resigned from more than 1,000 companies and paid a penalty to the state amid investigations on multiple fronts.


US States Under Pressure As World Pushes For Financial Transparency

Nevada, Wyoming and Delaware are facing growing pressure over their lack of corporate transparency, as the United States and the international community continue to respond to fallout from the Panama Papers.


The Malefactors of Mossack Fonseca

Meet The Dutchman, the Queen of the South, the Boss of Bosses and other convicted felons and alleged wrongdoers who have benefited from services provided by the law firm.


Panama Papers Include Dozens of Americans Tied to Fraud and Financial Misconduct

Mossack Fonseca's files include offshore companies linked to at least 36 Americans accused of serious financial wrongdoing, including fraud and racketeering.


Beyond Panama: Unlocking the world’s secrecy jurisdictions

The 21 jurisdictions covered by the Panama Papers data vary from the rolling hills of Wyoming to tropical getaways like the British Virgin Islands. But all have at least one thing in common - secrecy is the rule.


Panama Papers Source Offers Documents To Governments, Hints At More To Come

The anonymous whistleblower behind the Panama Papers has conditionally offered to make the documents available to government authorities.


US Officials React to Panama Papers Disclosures With Get-Tough Proposals

The Obama administration has proposed a national registry documenting the real owners of shell companies and other measures aimed at fighting offshore chicanery.


Iceland’s First Lady Linked to Offshore Investments

Records in the Panama Papers and the Swiss Leaks leaked files tie the wife of Iceland President Ólafur Grímsson to offshore companies and accounts.


Coming Soon: ICIJ to Release Panama Papers Offshore Companies Data

The database, to be released on May 9, will likely be the largest ever release of secret offshore companies and the people behind them.


Cartel-Linked Suspects Arrested After Panama Papers Revelations

Uruguayan prosecutors are seeking to bring to trial at least five individuals detained on suspicion of laundering money for a powerful Mexican drug cartel.


US Prosecutor Opens Investigation Into 'Panama Papers Matters'

ICIJ welcomes the interest from the Manhattan U.S. Attorney's office, but has made it clear it won't be turning over its data or taking part in any investigation.


Banks Ordered to Provide Info on Panama Dealings to NY Regulator

More than a dozen banks identified in the Panama Papers investigation have been asked to hand over details of their communications with Mossack Fonseca.


Art held offshore


Pakistan's PM Leaves Country, Spanish Minister Resigns

Nawaz Sharif faces growing pressure and calls for his resignation, a Spanish minister has stepped aside, and more governments are pledging reform as fallout from the Panama Papers revelations continues.


Panama Police Raid Mossack Fonseca As Global Fallout Continues

The search of Mossack Fonseca's Panama headquarters comes after a number of raids and official action taken in response to the Panama Papers revelations.


Global joint investigation to be proposed at special tax meeting

Tax officials from 28 nations met in Paris to develop a strategy for collaborative action based on Panama Papers revelations.


British PM Announces New Transparency Measures Following Panama Papers Revelations

David Cameron appeared before parliament on Monday to address concerns about his own links to offshore holdings revealed in the Panama Papers, as well as announce reform aimed at boosting transparency.


The Art of Secrecy

Locked in the files of a Panama law firm are the answers to mysteries involving Van Goghs, Picassos, Rembrandts and other masterworks.


Panama Papers Spark High-Level FIFA Resignation and Swiss Police Raid

Swiss police searched the office of Europe's top soccer association and a member of FIFA's ethics panel resigned following Panama Papers revelations.


Leaked Files Offer Many Clues To Offshore Dealings by Top Chinese

Eight current and former members of the Politburo Standing Committee, the country's top decision makers, have relatives with secret offshore companies.


Spies and Shadowy Allies Lurk in Secret With Help From Offshore Firm

Firm helps CIA operatives and other characters — real or fanciful — from the world of espionage set up offshore companies to obscure their dealings.


Iceland Prime Minister Tenders Resignation Following Panama Papers Revelations

The prime minister of Iceland said he would resign following mass protests triggered by reports from ICIJ and partners that he had owned an offshore company in the British Virgin Islands with his wife.


Law Firm’s Files Include Dozens of Companies and People Blacklisted by U.S. Authorities

Global law firm’s customers include suspected financiers of terrorism, nuclear weapons proliferators and gunrunners.


How Family that Runs Azerbaijan Built an Empire of Hidden Wealth

Documents peel away three layers of secret ownership in a conglomerate and lead to gold mines and overseas real estate.


Global Banks Team with Law Firms To Help the Wealthy Hide Assets

Leaked records show that hundreds of banks and their subsidiaries and branches registered nearly 15,600 shell companies.

About this project

The Panama Papers is an unprecedented investigation that reveals the offshore links of some of the globe’s most prominent figures.


All Putin’s Men: Secret Records Reveal Money Network Tied to Russian Leader

Complex offshore financial deals channel money and power towards a network of people and companies linked to President Vladimir Putin.


Giant Leak of Offshore Financial Records Exposes Global Array of Crime and Corruption

Millions of documents show heads of state, criminals and celebrities using secret hideaways in tax havens.


Panamanian Law Firm Is Gatekeeper To Vast Flow of Murky Offshore Secrets

Files show client roster that includes drug dealers, Mafia members, corrupt politicians and tax evaders — and wrongdoing galore.


Leak Ties Ethics Guru to Three Men Charged in FIFA Scandal

Secret documents show how deeply the world of soccer has become enmeshed in the world of offshore havens.


Iceland’s Prime Minister Ducks Question But the Answer Catches Up with Him

He came to power after the country’s financial collapse while hiding his offshore holdings of millions in bonds from Icelandic banks.


How the One Percenters Divorce: Offshore Intrigue Plays Hide and Seek with Millions

Firm that practices no matrimonial law nonetheless plays big role when the superrich around the globe decide to split.


The Malefactors of Mossack Fonseca

Meet The Dutchman, the Queen of the South, the Boss of Bosses and other convicted felons and alleged wrongdoers who use the law firm's services


In November 2005, customs officials at the Dutch port of Rotterdam got a tip: a shipment of asparagus from Peru might contain something besides vegetables.

About a week later, 60 pallets of tinned white asparagus came into port inside three shipping containers. Eighty percent of the cans contained asparagus. The rest contained cocaine – more than one and a half tons of it.

Dutch and Peruvian authorities said a man known in Peru as The Dutchman – Ment Dijkhuizen Cáceres – was behind the industrial scale drug trafficking. Investigators found that he and his attorney, Eduardo Gallardo Arciniega, used a series of offshore shell companies to launder the money.

Dijkhuizen and Gallardo registered at least four of those front companies at Mossack Fonseca, the Panama-based law firm that has become known worldwide for creating hard-to-trace offshore companies by politicians, wealthy investors and, in many cases, notorious criminals.

articles/0xDataRelease/160509-malefactor-02.jpgDijkhuizen is one of Mossack Fonseca’s malefactors – convicted felons and alleged wrongdoers who have benefited from services provided by the law firm that’s at the center of the “Panama Papers” scandal.

They come from the United States, the United Kingdom, Spain and many other lands. They include mobsters, drug traffickers, arms smugglers, Ponzi schemers and other criminal figures, a review of the law firm’s internal files by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and other media partners has found.

Mossack Fonseca’s internal files include companies tied to at least 36 Americans who have been accused or convicted of fraud or other serious financial misconduct. The law firm’s files also include at least 33 people and companies blacklisted by the U.S. Treasury Department because of evidence that they’d been involved in wrongdoing, such as doing business with Mexican drug lords or terrorist organizations like Hezbollah.

Mossack Fonseca has told ICIJ and other media partners that it “does not foster or promote unlawful acts.”

It said it relies on middlemen that it refers to as its “clients” – bankers, lawyers and other operatives that feed it business – to make sure that people who get offshore companies through the law firm aren’t involved in criminal activity. The law firm said it also has its own screening procedures designed to identify suspect customers “to the extent it is reasonably possible.”

In cases when companies formed by Mossack Fonseca ended up in the hands of criminals, a spokesman said, the firm has “strongly condemned that situation” and taken actions to deal with the problem.

The firm declined to answer questions about offshore companies linked to Dijkhuizen and five other notorious figures whose case histories are explored in this story – including a drug boss known as “Queen of the South,” an American con man who set up a fake charity in the name of a Catholic saint and an alleged mobster known as the Russian underworld’s “Boss of Bosses.”

Fine and educated ways

  • Name: Ment Floor Dijkhuizen Cáceres
  • Nationality: Peruvian
  • Claim to fame: Drug Trafficker
  • Locale: Peru and The Netherlands
  • AKA: El Holandés (The Dutchman)

Ment Dijkhuizen’s cocaine ring had been under scrutiny for years, long before his arrest. Sandra Barrios Villacorta, secretary to a key figure of Dijkhuizen’s organization who had been arrested, was murdered while walking her daughter to school. Police suspected she “knew too much,” according to La Republica.

After learning in 2006 that Dijkhuizen had been the target of a massive drug bust, Jürgen Mossack, Mossack Fonseca’s co-founder, expressed surprise that his law firm had taken on such a man as a customer. “There are bank accounts?” Mossack wrote. “We are signatories? … I’m wondering what kind of due diligence is made in Peru on customers?”

Monica Ycaza, Mossack Fonseca’s Peru representative, wrote back that there was no way she could have known.

Dijkhuizen’s lawyer, Gallardo, who arranged for the companies to be created, was “a person of fine and educated ways, which gave us no cause to doubt him,” Ycaza said.

The Drug Queen

  • Name: Marllory Dadiana Chacón Rossell
  • Nationality: Guatemalan
  • Claim to fame: Drug Trafficker, Money Launderer
  • Locales: Guatemala, Honduras, Panama, Mexico, United States
  • AKA: Queen of the South

In January 2012, U.S. authorities identified Marllory Dadiana Chacón Rossell as “one of the most prolific narcotics traffickers in Central America.” U.S. Treasury officials accused her of sending thousands of kilos of cocaine through Guatemala to the United States and laundering tens of millions of dollars each month.

articles/0xDataRelease/160509-malefactor-03.jpgIt’s rare enough for a woman to obtain drug lord status that the Guatemalan press dubbed her, “Queen of the South.”

At the height of Chacón Rossell’s reign, she and her family lived opulently in Guatemala City, mixing with politicians and high society and vacationing in Europe. By the time she was in her late 30s, she was the mother of five and the ruler of a business empire that included hotels, a national lottery, a construction firm and a high-end clothing store. U.S. officials identified 24 business entities connected to her.

Mossack Fonseca played a role in her kingdom, the law firm’s internal records show.

In 2008, the law firm helped establish Brodway Commerce Inc. Chacón Rossell was listed as director and president. Mossack Fonseca also helped the company create accounts with Panama’s Banvivienda Bank and Guatemala’s Banco Reformador. By October 2009, the Banco Reformador account held $12 million, the records show.

In 2015, Chacón Rossell cut a deal with the U.S. Justice Department, winning a reduced sentence in exchange for her cooperation with American authorities. Her actual punishment has been kept secret and a judge ordered the case sealed for five years.

Operation White Whale

  • Name: Fernando del Valle
  • Nationality: Chilean
  • Claim to fame: Money Launderer
  • Locale: Spain

In 2005, Spanish authorities arrested 50 people in Operation White Whale, an investigation of what was called the largest money-laundering ring in Spain’s history. At the center of the alleged $300 million laundering operation, prosecutors said, was a Chilean lawyer named Fernando del Valle, who set up shell companies that helped drug dealers, mafiosos, arms traffickers and pimps plow dirty money into real estate.

In 2007, two years after he was arrested in the White Whale case, del Valle got Mossack Fonseca to reactivate a company he had formed in 1979 called Nitel Values SA.

Mossack Fonseca didn’t learn of del Valle’s arrest until 2009, when he asked to create a new company for a German client. About a month later, Mossack Fonseca resigned as registered agent of Nitel Values.

In 2011 a Spanish court sentenced del Valle to more than six years in prison for money laundering and tax fraud.

To-do list

  • Name: Martin Frankel
  • Nationality: American
  • Claim to fame: Fraudster
  • Locale: United States

In early 2000, U.S. authorities approached Mossack Fonseca through the attorney general of the British Virgin Islands, demanding information on two offshore companies owned by colorful financial criminal Martin Frankel. He had been a longtime customer of the law firm, even while embezzling more than $200 million from insurance companies in five states and then taking some of the money on the lam once discovered.

articles/0xDataRelease/160509-malefactor-06.jpgFrankel also set up a sham charitable foundation named after a Catholic saint that promised to raise money for the poor but instead bankrolled his lavish lifestyle, which included mansions, luxury cars, bodyguards and a bevy of girlfriends.

When Frankel fled the U.S. in 1999, authorities said, he left behind an astrological chart drawn up to answer the question “Will I go to prison?” and a to-do list that included “launder money.” When authorities finally caught up with Frankel in Hamburg, Germany, they found 547 diamonds and nine fake passports.

Mossack Fonseca took several months to respond to the official request for documents in 2000. During the interim, it worked to shut down companies linked to Frankel and disengage from its association with him. In 2002, Frankel pleaded guilty to 20 counts of wire fraud as well as counts of securities fraud and racketeering conspiracy.

Guns and money

  • Name: John Knight
  • Nationality: British
  • Claim to Fame: Arms Trafficker
  • Locale: UK

articles/0xDataRelease/160509-malefactor-04.jpgIn November 2004, John Knight admitted that he had negotiated with Sudan to supply it with tanks, rocket launchers, artillery guns, and Soviet airplanes—while it was engaged in genocide in Darfur.

Knight was already known in Britain. In 1991, a reporter from the Daily Mirror had gone undercover and arranged a deal to buy Kalashnikovs from him. When The Scotsman newspaper asked Knight in 2004 why he would sell weapons to the Sudanese regime, Knight pointed to Adolf Hitler, saying “people were supplying him with stuff. He was the biggest tyrant of the lot.”

Through an intermediary in Cyprus, Knight bought a British Virgin Islands shell company called Endeavour Resources Limited from Mossack Fonseca in 2005. He used that company to traffic arms in the Middle East, according to the British government.

In 2007, British customs authorities raided Knight’s $3 million house outside London in search of evidence he had been trading weapons with Iran. They found shredded documents, which, when pieced together later, showed Knight created a false trail to cover up his plan to buy 130 automatic weapons from Iran and sell them to Kuwait via Endeavour Resources. He was sentenced to four years in prison for the scheme.

Mossack Fonseca resigned as registered agent for Endeavour Resources, but it remains the agent for Business Systems Consultant Ltd., a Bahamian company that was listed as Endeavour Resources’ director.

Boss of Bosses

  • Name: Semion Mogilevich
  • Nationality: Ukrainian
  • Claim to fame: Called “the most dangerous mobster in the world”
  • Locale: Moscow
  • AKA: the Boss of Bosses; the Brainy Don; Mr. Bigski; Seva

In 2009, the FBI named Semion Mogilevich to its Top Ten Most Wanted fugitives list, calling him a “global con artist and ruthless criminal” who was “involved in weapons trafficking, contract murders, extortion, drug trafficking, and prostitution on an international scale.” Known as the Boss of Bosses, the chain-smoking, portly Ukrainian’s signature method of neutralizing an enemy was the car bomb, The Guardian reported.

Mogilevich got his start in organized crime fleecing fellow Soviet Jews immigrating to Israel, according to The Independent. He eventually set up operations in Hungary and in Israel.

An indictment secured by U.S. authorities in 2003 charged Mogilevich with being behind the fraud at YBM Magnex International, a publicly traded Pennsylvania company that bilked investors out of $150 million.

articles/0xDataRelease/160509-malefactor-05.jpgMogilevich had several close connections to shell companies registered by Mossack Fonseca, though none appear to have been in his name. In 2001, the attorney general’s office of the Bahamas wrote Mossack Fonseca requesting information about Rosebud Consultants Inc., a company registered by the law firm in Nassau. Bahamian officials were acting in response to request from U.S. authorities who were investigating what they alleged were payments made to Mogilevich through Rosebud and his attorney Adrian Churchward in connection with the YBM Magnex scandal. Mossack Fonseca’s own files don’t show any links between Churchward and Rosebud, but the investigative request said U.S. prosecutors believed Churchward was “associated” with Rosebud and that the company was funneling $20,000 a month in “consulting fees” to Mogilevich.

Churchward was also director of Trinity Films Inc. along with Galina V. Grigoryeva, who was married to Mogilevich and later to Churchward. Mossack Fonseca registered that company in March 1996 in the Bahamas.

Churchward now writes thrillers, including “Moscow Bound,” about the estranged wife of a Russian oligarch and a lawyer on the run for a crime they didn’t commit. After the release of the initial Panama Papers stories, Churchward was heavily critical of the offshore industry, saying on Twitter that the rich and powerful have “a tight grip on their corruption.”

“Nothing will change,” he added. “The ‘Global elite’ and their political servants aren’t turkeys who are about to vote for Christmas.”

Asked for comment on his connection to companies at Mossack Fonseca, Churchward said in a email: “My lawyers have advised me that if Mr Moguilevitch goes to trial I may be called by either the prosecution or defence to give testimony as a witness and, as such, I should not comment on any aspects of any alleged relationship with Mr Moguilevitch, business or otherwise.”

Another Mogilevich connection in the Panama Papers is Igor Fisherman, a Ukrainian-born American charged alongside Mogilevich by the U.S. in the YBM Magnex scam. Fisherman’s wife Olga Zhunzhurova held power of attorney over Hastan Finance SA, a company purchased in the Seychelles, an offshore haven in the Indian Ocean, through an intermediary in Switzerland.

The FBI said in 2009 that Mogilevich was living in Moscow. In 2015, the agency took him off its “Ten Most Wanted” list, noting that “the extensive national and international publicity afforded him has not generated information which would assist in his apprehension.”

Mogilevich could not be reached for comment for this story. In a 1999 article, the New York Times quoted him as saying: “I am not a leader or an active participant of any criminal group.” When the BBC asked him about the YBM Magnex case in 1999, he said: “Well, if they found old-fashioned hanky-panky, it’s up to them to prove it.”

Frankel, Knight and Dijkhuizen also could not be reached for this story. In an email, Del Valle said he could not comment. Chacón Rossell’s attorney said her client declined comment.

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