In 2015, Süddeutsche Zeitung (SZ) was contacted by an anonymous source calling him or herself "John Doe," who offered to leak the documents. Doe did not demand any financial compensation in return, according to the SZ. The total volume of data comes to about 2.76 terabytes, making it the biggest data leak in history. The data pertains to the period spanning from the 1970s to the spring of 2016.
The earliest discovered artifacts of indigenous peoples in Panama include Paleo-Indian projectile points. Later central Panama was home to some of the first pottery-making in the Americas, for example the cultures at Monagrillo, which date back to 2500–1700 BC. These evolved into significant populations best known through their spectacular burials (dating to c. 500–900 AD) at the Monagrillo archaeological site, and their beautiful Gran Coclé style polychrome pottery. The monumental monolithic sculptures at the Barriles (Chiriqui) site are also important traces of these ancient isthmian cultures.

In 1501 Rodrigo de Bastidas of Spain landed on the Caribbean side, discovering the Americas. Just a short 18 years later, 1500 Spanish settlers had established the oldest European settlement on the Pacific Coast of the Americas in what was called Panama Viejo, near the current Panama City. Finding that the two oceans were not far apart, conquistadors began transporting goods from the Caribbean side to the Pacific side in what became known as the El Camino Real or Royal Trail. This enabled two-way traffic of carts carrying treasures to go from sea to sea. In 1671 the famous pirate Henry Morgan burned down the original Panama City.
The Procuraduría de la Nación announced that it would investigate Mossack Fonseca and the Panama papers.[146] On April 12, the newly formed Second Specialized Prosecutor against Organized Crime raided Mossack Fonseca and searched their Bella Vista office as part of the investigation initiated by the Panama Papers. The Attorney General's office issued a press release following the raid, which lasted 27 hours,[147] stating that the purpose was "to obtain documents relevant to the information published in news articles that establishes the possible use of the law firm in illegal activities".[148] The search ended without measures against the law firm, confirmed prosecutor Javier Caraballo of the Second Prosecutor Against Organized Crime.[149]
One year before the start of the California Gold Rush, the Panama Railroad Company was formed, but the railroad did not begin full operation until 1855. Between 1848 and 1869, the year the first transcontinental railroad was completed in the United States, about 375,000 persons crossed the isthmus from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and 225,000 in the opposite direction. This traffic greatly increased the prosperity of the city during that period.
On December 12, 2014, José Hawilla, the owner and founder of the Traffic Group, the Brazilian sports marketing conglomerate, waived indictment and pleaded guilty to a four-count information charging him with racketeering conspiracy, wire fraud conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy and obstruction of justice. Hawilla also agreed to forfeit over $151 million, $25 million of which was paid at the time of his plea.[498]
Angola's $5 billion sovereign wealth fund, the Fundo Soberano de Angola (FSDEA), promotes itself as a vehicle of development and prosperity for Angola. The FSDEA is headed by José Filomeno de Sousa "Zenu" dos Santos, the son of President José Eduardo dos Santos, who has been in power since 1979. Funded by the state-owned petroleum company Sonangol, the FSDEA has critics who say that its record-keeping is murky and that it seems to engage in nepotism and cronyism.[443]
Meanwhile, Noriega's regime had fostered a well-hidden criminal economy that operated as a parallel source of income for the military and their allies, providing revenues from drugs and money laundering. Toward the end of the military dictatorship, a new wave of Chinese migrants arrived on the isthmus in the hope of migrating to the United States. The smuggling of Chinese became an enormous business, with revenues of up to 200 million dollars for Noriega's regime (see Mon 167).[30]
Computer security expert Chris Kubecka announced May 24, 2016 that the Mossack Fonseca client login portal was running four different government grade remote access trojans (RATs). Kubecka confirmed there were still numerous critical vulnerabilities, too many open ports into their infrastructure and internet access to their archive server due to weak security.[74] Kubecka explained how each data security issue was discovered in detail in a full-length book titled Down the Rabbit Hole: An OSINT Journey.[75]
On April 8, President Varela denounced France's proposal to return Panama to a list of countries that did not cooperate with information exchange.[133] Minister of the Presidency Alvaro Alemán categorically denied that Panama is a tax haven, and said the country would not be a scapegoat.[134] Alemán said that talks with the French ambassador to Panama had begun.[134]
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The current wife of former prime minister of Spain Felipe González, María García Vaquero, opened an account in Switzerland for Carmingo Ltd in 2004 in the tax haven of Niue, an island in the South Pacific.[263] The lawyer Cándido Conde-Pumpido Jr., son of former General Prosecutor of Spain and magistrate of the Supreme Court of Spain, Cándido Conde-Pumpido, asked to open a Mossack Fonseca offshore company in 2008, though the transaction wasn't completed[why?]. He had intended the offshore company to be an intermediary in a project to build a skyscraper in the capital of Panama, not to hide money.[264]
Anti-corruption group Transparency International believes that the "creation of businesses while serving as president is a direct violation of the constitution".[296] Also, journalists from the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project believe that with the move Poroshenko committed two other illegalities, starting a new business while in office and failing afterwards to report it on his disclosure statements.[296] Poroshenko denied any wrongdoing and a spokesman said the offshore company had no active assets and was a legitimate corporate restructure aimed at helping to sell Poroshenko's Roshen group.[296] Analysts in Ukraine responded that the secretive way Poroshenko set up these accounts was certain to undermine trust in him, his party and Ukraine itself.[297]

Thousands of mentions of Donald Trump. Several "Trump" companies mentioned in the Panama Papers have completely different principals, such as "a young woman whose LinkedIn profile describes her as merchandising supervisor at a small clothing retailer" in Palembang, Indonesia.[434] The "Trump Ocean Club International Hotel & Tower Panama" mentioned in the papers "is not owned, developed or sold by Donald J. Trump, the Trump Organization or any of their principals or affiliates", according to the resort website.[434]
Former Delta State governor James Ibori is also mentioned in the leak.[465] Ibori pleaded guilty in London in 2012 to siphoning $75 million out of Nigeria while he was in office from 1999–2007.[82] All charges against him in Nigeria had been dropped in Nigeria following an election.[466] Ibori was sentenced to 13 years. Mossack Fonseca, the registered agent for his four offshore entities, received a request in 2008 for information about his accounts from British Crown Prosecutors. His family's Julex Foundation was the shareholder in Stanhope Investments, a company incorporated in 2003 on the island of Niue, to which he funneled millions of dollars so he could buy a private jet.[467] The United Kingdom returned £6.8 million to Nigeria from funds it had seized from accounts determined to have belonged to Ibori.[467][468]
Soon the filings almost covered the island's year budget. The US government however made official noises in 2001 about laundering criminal proceeds and Chase Bank blacklisted the island and Bank of New York followed suit. This caused inconvenience to the population so they let their contract with Mossack Fonseca expire and many of the privacy-seekers on the banking world moved on.[497] Some did stay however, apparently; the Panama Papers database lists nearly 10,000 companies and trusts set up on Niue, population 1200.[491]
Panama's politics take place in a framework of a presidential representative democratic republic, whereby the President of Panama is both head of state and head of government, and of a multi-party system. Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in both the government and the National Assembly. The judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature.
Panama's international airport, Tocumen International Airport is located on the eastern outskirts of the city's metropolitan area. Two other airports serve Panama City: Panamá Pacífico, previously the Howard Air Force Base, and Marcos A. Gelabert, previously the Albrook Air Force Base. Pacífico serves VivaColombia and Wingo, while Marcos A. Gelabert Airport is the main hub for AirPanama. All other flights are served by Tocumen.
The US intent to influence the area, especially the Panama Canal's construction and control, led to the separation of Panama from Colombia in 1903 and its establishment as a nation. When the Senate of Colombia rejected the Hay–Herrán Treaty on January 22, 1903, the United States decided to support and encourage the Panamanian separatist movement[24][22]
A 2012 investigation, by Radio Free Europe and the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) discovered that through overseas holding companies, the daughters of Azerbaijani president Ilham Aliyev owned an interest in a gold mine operation created by a 2006 presidential decree forming a consortium, then awarding it a 30-year lease over environmental and transparency objections in Parliament.[327]
Guinean President Alpha Condé launched an investigation after he was elected in 2010. Separately, so did the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the US justice department, suspecting violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. In August 2014 Mossack Fonseca received a Tax Information Exchange Agreement (TIEA) notice from the US government inquiring into ownership of Pentler and two other BSGR companies administered by Mossack Fonseca's Geneva office. However, the president of Pentler's financial management firm, Menachem Eitan, was a fugitive from the US SEC facing charges over a $55 million Ponzi scheme.[460]
Anti-corruption group Transparency International believes that the "creation of businesses while serving as president is a direct violation of the constitution".[296] Also, journalists from the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project believe that with the move Poroshenko committed two other illegalities, starting a new business while in office and failing afterwards to report it on his disclosure statements.[296] Poroshenko denied any wrongdoing and a spokesman said the offshore company had no active assets and was a legitimate corporate restructure aimed at helping to sell Poroshenko's Roshen group.[296] Analysts in Ukraine responded that the secretive way Poroshenko set up these accounts was certain to undermine trust in him, his party and Ukraine itself.[297]
In response to queries from the Miami Herald and ICIJ, Mossack Fonseca issued a 2,900-word statement listing legal requirements that prevent using offshore companies for tax avoidance and total anonymity, such as FATF protocols which require identifying ultimate beneficial owners of all companies (including offshore companies) before opening any account or transacting any business.
Nearly 500 rivers lace Panama's rugged landscape. Mostly unnavigable, many originate as swift highland streams, meander in valleys, and form coastal deltas. However, the Río Chagres (Chagres River), located in central Panama, is one of the few wide rivers and a source of hydroelectric power. The central part of the river is dammed by the Gatun Dam and forms Gatun Lake, an artificial lake that constitutes part of the Panama Canal. The lake was created by the construction of the Gatun Dam across the Río Chagres between 1907 and 1913. Once created, Gatun Lake was the largest man-made lake in the world, and the dam was the largest earth dam. The river drains northwest into the Caribbean. The Kampia and Madden Lakes (also filled from the Río Chagres) provide hydroelectricity for the area of the former Canal Zone.
The leaked documents indicate that about US$2 trillion has passed through the firm's hands.[110] Several of the holding companies that appear in the documents did business with sanctioned entities, such as arms merchants and relatives of dictators, while the sanctions were in place. The firm provided services to a Seychelles company named Pangates International, which the US government believes supplied aviation fuel to the Syrian government during the current civil war, and continued to handle its paperwork and certify it as a company in good standing, despite sanctions, until August 2015.[101]
The Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) between the governments of the United States and Panama was signed on October 27, 1982. The treaty protects US investment and assists Panama in its efforts to develop its economy by creating conditions more favorable for US private investment and thereby strengthening the development of its private sector. The BIT was the first such treaty signed by the US in the Western Hemisphere.[69] A Panama–United States Trade Promotion Agreement (TPA) was signed in 2007, approved by Panama on July 11, 2007 and by US President Obama on October 21, 2011, and the agreement entered into force on October 31, 2012.[70]
Isabel Saint Malo de Alvarado, Vice President of Panama, said in an op-ed piece published April 21 in The Guardian that President Juan Carlos Varela and his administration have strengthened Panama's controls over money-laundering in the twenty months they have been in power, and that "Panama is setting up an independent commission, co-chaired by the Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz, to evaluate our financial system, determine best practices, and recommend measures to strengthen global financial and legal transparency. We expect its findings within the next six months, and will share the results with the international community."[131]

Austria's financial market authority has announced that they will audit two Austrian banks that were mentioned in the Panama Papers – Raiffeisenbank International (RBI) and Hypo Vorarlberg [de]. It will be specifically examining whether the banks have complied with their obligation to prevent money laundering. Hypo Vorarlberg subsequently announced that while they have complied with all laws in the past, they are planning to retreat completely from the offshore sector.[174]
Located at the tip of the Azuero Peninsula, Pedasi is a quaint unassuming beach town with a pristine downtown area. The expat community numbers several hundred within the total population of just under 5,000. This expat community is growing as visitors have discovered this treasured jewel. Not much further down the two-lane road is Playa Venao, one of Panama’s best surfing beaches.
Mossack Fonseca has managed more than 300,000 companies over the years.[95] The number of active companies peaked at more than 80,000 in 2009. Over 210,000 companies in twenty-one jurisdictions figure in the leaks. More than half were incorporated in the British Virgin Islands, others in Panama, the Bahamas, the Seychelles, Niue, and Samoa. Mossack Fonseca's clients have come from more than 100 countries. Most of the corporate clients were from Hong Kong, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, Luxembourg, Panama, and Cyprus. Mossack Fonseca worked with more than 14,000 banks, law firms, incorporators, and others to set up companies, foundations, and trusts for their clients.[107] Some 3,100 companies listed in the database appear to have ties to US offshore specialists, and 3,500 shareholders of offshore companies list US addresses.[108] Mossack Fonseca has offices in Nevada and Wyoming.[109]
Prime Minister Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson, elected after the 2008 banking collapse in Iceland, had pledged to clean up corruption in the banking system. But when Sigmundur Davíð took his seat he did not disclose his 50% interest of Wintris, a company that owned bonds of one of the bankrupt banks, nor divest himself of it, until the day before a new law took effect on January 1, 2010 that would have required him to declare this conflict of interest. He sold his share to his wife, who owns the other half.[195] The couple both come from wealthy families. When they bought Wintris he was working as a journalist and she is an anthropologist. Until his failure to disclose the asset, he apparently broke no laws. But the country remembers the 2008 financial crisis all too well and thought it had put it in the past.[196] Since Sigmundur Davíð negotiated on behalf of Iceland with creditors of failed Icelandic banks, the discovery that Sigmundur Davíð's wife is a bondholder caused so much outrage that 22,000–24,000 people attended an anti-government protest outside the parliament on April 4, 2016, almost 8% of the population.[197] Sigmundur Davíð suggested a snap election,[198] but the other members of the coalition government did not want elections, just his resignation. On April 5, 2016, Prime Minister of Iceland Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson announced his resignation.[199][200]
The National Mineral Agency (NMA) until 2005 valued diamonds for export using a price book based on 1996 figures. Companies also often seek to minimize the value of their diamond exports to reduce taxes and move profits abroad. Once transferred to a subsidiary elsewhere where their value is not taxed, the same diamonds are frequently worth more.[18]
Since the end of the 20th century, association football has become more popular in Panama.[citation needed] The top tier of domestic Panamanian football, Liga Panameña de Fútbol, was founded in 1988. The national team appeared at the FIFA World Cup for the first time in 2018, appearing in group G, facing Belgium, England and Tunisia. However, the team lost all three games, failing to advance past the group stage. Notable players for the national team include Luis Ernesto Tapia, Rommel Fernández, the Dely Valdés Brothers: Armando, Julio and Jorge; and more recent players as Jaime Penedo, Felipe Baloy, Luis Tejada, Blas Pérez, Román Torres and Harold Cummings. 
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