‘Biggest Leak in History’ Links World Leaders to Hidden Billions

Get ready to hear the term “Panama Papers” on the news—a lot. That’s the name being given to a massive trove of leaked records, likely the largest data leak in history, that are touted as revealing how the globe’s rich, famous, and powerful hide their money in offshore tax havens, The Guardian reports.

The data, which reportedly totals more than 11.5 million individual documents, or 2.6 terabytes (way more than the data Edward Snowden leaked to journalists, for instance), comes from the internal database of the giant, Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca, which specializes in helping people set up companies in offshore tax havens such as Switzerland and the British Virgin Islands.

While keeping money in offshore accounts isn’t illegal in itself, the practice of hiding money from your home country that way, often through setting up shell companies, is inextricably linked to corruption and money laundering. It’s not clear who leaked the documents, just that an anonymous source gave them to the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, which shared them with 100 other news organizations. Overall, The Guardian says that journalists from 80 countries have been working together to analyze the data for a year leading up to going live with the story today.

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