Panama Papers to be searchable by the public from 9 May

27 Apr 2016

If you consider yourself a corporate legal sleuth, then you might be interested to know that, as of 9 May, everyone will be able to search the files of the largest data breach in history, commonly referred to as the Panama Papers.

By some distance, the Panama Papers released earlier this month following a year of investigative work by international journalists, reveal more than we’ve ever known before about how corporations operate in a system that often allows those with the most money to pay the least taxes.

Now, just over a month later, the Washington-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) that went through the documents featuring the names of Vladimir Putin’s best friend and David Cameron’s father, has decided it’s time to go open source and release the papers for public investigation.

Future Human

In its announcement, the organisation has said that it will be a relatively easy-to-search database containing information on more than 200,000 offshore entities that have fallen under the Panama Papers investigation.

Full of datavis

As many familiar with the case know, the documents obtained from the law firm Mossack Fonseca include information about companies, trusts, foundations and funds incorporated in 21 tax havens, from Hong Kong to Nevada in the US, and have links to people in more than 200 countries and territories, giving an indication of the scale with which wealthy groups and individuals hide their money.

Aside from being just searchable, the organisation indicates that it will also be a datavis treasure trove, helping us to visualise the scale of offshore entities and will also include information about more than 100,000 additional companies that were part of the 2013 ICIJ Offshore Leaks investigation.

This will not be a mass data dump with all details available to see, rather it will stick with what is of public interest and omit details of bank accounts and financial transactions, emails and other correspondence, passports and telephone numbers.

For those looking to go through the files on 9 May, the ICIJ has created a dedicated microsite for the database that will go live at 7pm IST (6pm UTC).

Panama Papers image via nevodka/Shutterstock

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic