The Panama Papers are a leaked set of 11.5 million confidential documents that provide detailed information about more than 214,000 offshore companies listed by the Panamanian corporate service provider Mossack Fonseca, including the identities of shareholders and directors of the companies.
The documents have shown how wealthy individuals, including public officials, hide their money from public scrutiny for tax-avoidance. At the time of publication, the papers identified five then-heads of state or government leaders from Saudi Arabia, Argentina, Iceland, Ukraine, and the United Arab Emirates. Government officials , close relatives, and close associates of various heads of government of more than forty other countries, including the United Kingdom, Brazil, China, France, Russia, Spain, India, and South Africa.
While the use of offshore business entities is not illegal in the jurisdictions in which they are registered, during their investigation reporters found that some of the shell companies may have been used for illegal purposes, including fraud, drug trafficking, and tax evasion.
The New York Times describes the Panama Papers in their article on April 4, 2016 that can be found here.
A video by the ICIJ (The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists) titled, “The Panama Papers: Victims of Offshore”, can be found here. The video does a great job describing the worldwide impact that the Panama Papers have had in recent time.