Yesterday, following an investigation including journalists from more than 80 countries, the Guardian published a report on "the Panama Papers," 11.5m files comprising 2.6 terabytes of data "leaked from the database of Mossack Fonseca, the world's fourth biggest offshore law firm. The records were obtained from an anonymous source by the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung and shared by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists with the Guardian and the BBC."
Within those files are details on "the hidden wealth of some of the world's most prominent leaders, politicians, and celebrities" and "documents that show the myriad ways in which the rich can exploit secretive offshore tax regimes."
The Panama Papers reveal:The Guardian has also provided a very simple factsheet on the basics of the investigation and what's been found.
* Twelve national leaders are among 143 politicians, their families, and close associates from around the world known to have been using offshore tax havens.
* A $2bn trail leads all the way to Vladimir Putin. The Russian president's best friend—a cellist called Sergei Roldugin—is at the centre of a scheme in which money from Russian state banks is hidden offshore. Some of it ends up in a ski resort where in 2013 Putin's daughter Katerina got married.
* Among national leaders with offshore wealth are Nawaz Sharif, Pakistan's prime minister; Ayad Allawi, ex-interim prime minister and former vice-president of Iraq; Petro Poroshenko, president of Ukraine; Alaa Mubarak, son of Egypt's former president; and the prime minister of Iceland, Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson.
* Six members of the House of Lords, three former Conservative MPs, and dozens of donors to UK political parties have had offshore assets.
*The families of at least eight current and former members of China's supreme ruling body, the politburo, have been found to have hidden wealth offshore.
* Twenty-three individuals who have had sanctions imposed on them for supporting the regimes in North Korea, Zimbabwe, Russia, Iran, and Syria have been clients of Mossack Fonseca. Their companies were harboured by the Seychelles, the British Virgin Islands, Panama, and other jurisdictions.
* A key member of Fifa's powerful ethics committee, which is supposed to be spearheading reform at world football's scandal-hit governing body, acted as a lawyer for individuals and companies recently charged with bribery and corruption.
* One leaked memorandum from a partner of Mossack Fonseca said: "Ninety-five per cent of our work coincidentally consists in selling vehicles to avoid taxes."
Most (and possibly all) of what's been uncovered in the Panama Papers is legal. Which doesn't mean it's ethical. At this point, what it reveals indisputably is that there are powerful people of extreme wealth who play by entirely different rules than the rest of us.
On the one hand, no kidding. On the other hand, seeing evidence laying out just how different those rules are is pretty breathtaking.
Anyway. Here's a thread to talk about the Panama Papers, as well as the habits and ethics of the people who hide their money to avoid having to pay taxes, while many of them would spend long hours telling you about the loathsomeness of poor people who mooch and take and don't contribute their fair shares.