Let’s be honest – we know that many of the rich were stashing piles of loot into offshore banks before the Panama Papers leaked, and we know that many of the rich are stashing piles of loot into offshore banks after the Panama Papers leaked. So what did we really learn?
Of course none of those names from the UK are guilty of anything – they all had some “good” reason to have an offshore bank account or company. Varying from needing to get around currency export regulations (that sounds a bit dodgy to me) to buying houses – because of course it is not possible to buy houses in the UK without using an offshore company.
Ninety-five per cent of our work coincidentally consists in selling vehicles to avoid taxes.Partner of Mossack Fonseca
Hmm … I wonder which statement is more to be trusted – people making public statements that they were not attempting to avoid taxes, or a private statement about their real motives?
There have been suggestions that the ICIJ have been carefully selective about their revelations; specifically to avoid embarrassing “special people”. Well they are right in one sense – the ICIJ is being selective but there is probably no sinister motive involved. They are just digesting 2.6Tbytes of leaked documents which you can be sure takes considerable time to process without undergoing a severe case of digital indigestion.
And of course maximising the impact of the stories to come over possibly months.
As to the source of the data, at this stage it is not clear how the data was leaked. There are several claims :-
- The company email server was “hacked”. Whilst some of the leaked documents were emails, many were not and whilst some more normal document formats are often found “attached” to emails, database files are very rarely attached to emails. Plus leaking 2.6Tbytes of data from an email server is not entirely stealthy.
- Various web-based services (WordPress and Drupal have been mentioned) have been claimed to have vulnerabilities which were supposedly used to break in and ex-filtrate the documents. To be honest it seems a bit unlikely that a web-based application would have direct access to all those documents, but perhaps the company didn’t believe in data security (a law firm? with ultra-rich clients including very successful criminals?). Again leaking 2.6Tbytes of data from a web server isn’t exactly the stealthiest of methods.
- The next method is probably the most boring method. Someone from inside the firm simply drops a backup tape into their jacket on the way out of the building. By far the easiest way of ex-filtrating the data considering the size.
We will probably never know exactly how the data was obtained as the source is doing everything in their power to remain anonymous.