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The man behind the Panama Papers

GERMAN journalist Frederik Obermaier would never have foreseen how his life would change in a year. He and his colleague Bastian Obermayer (no relation) were investigative reporters for the German newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung when one John Doe contacted them online with a treasure trove of leaked information – all 2.6 terabytes of it.

More than a year later after their initial contact, the Panama Papers were published on April last year, the largest data leak in history, revealing a long list of rich and powerful names around the world who have hidden their wealth in hundreds of thousands of shell companies that were created by Mossack Fonseca, a Panamanian law firm and corporate service provider – the world’s fourth biggest provider of offshore services.

World leaders were dragged into the spotlight, some were linked to the Panama Papers revelations and others had close family or friends who were. Not too long after the press broke the news, Iceland’s Prime Minister Sigmundur Gunnlaugsson was implicated in offshore tax evasion and after mounting pressure from the public stepped down. Several Fijian names were mentioned in the leak; however, no one was implicated for any wrongdoing.

Fiji’s Financial Intelligence Unit director Razim Buksh told the media last year that they would analyse this information through collaboration with other partners. Islands Business has contacted Buksh for the outcome of their year-long analysis but he stated via email that he could not respond before this issue went to press. 

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