Panama enjoys a lively mix of cultural influences, expressed in the country’s cuisine, artwork, music, and literature. Its capital, Panama City, is located on the Pacific coast just east of the canal. A cosmopolitan city where skyscrapers tower above whitewashed bungalows, it enjoys a handsome setting and a growing importance as a commercial and financial services centre for the region. However, its economic progress has been hampered periodically by environmental problems and political turmoil.
SZ asked the ICIJ for help because of the amount of data involved. Journalists from 107 media organizations in 80 countries analyzed documents detailing the operations of the law firm. After more than a year of analysis, the first news stories were published on April 3, 2016, along with 150 of the documents themselves. The project represents an important milestone in the use of data journalism software tools and mobile collaboration.
The firm is Panamanian but runs a worldwide operation. Its website boasts of a global network with 600 people working in 42 countries. It has franchises around the world, where separately owned affiliates sign up new customers and have exclusive rights to use its brand. Mossack Fonseca operates in tax havens including Switzerland, Cyprus and the British Virgin Islands, and in the British crown dependencies Guernsey, Jersey and the Isle of Man.
Data security experts noted, however, that the company had not been encrypting its emails and furthermore seemed to have been running a three-year-old version of Drupal with several known vulnerabilities. According to James Sanders of TechRepublic, Drupal ran on the Apache 2.2.15 version from March 6, 2010, and worse, the Oracle fork of Apache, which by default allows users to view directory structure.
Former Secretary of State and 2016 Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton condemned "outrageous tax havens and loopholes ... in Panama and elsewhere" at a Pennsylvania AFL–CIO event. Clinton added that "some of this behavior is clearly against the law, and everyone who violates the law anywhere should be held accountable", but it was "scandalous how much is actually legal". Clinton promised that "We are going after all these scams and make sure everyone pays their fair share here in America."
The publisher concludes that: "Taiwanese companies and individuals are believed to be extensively using offshore shelters to avoid or evade taxes ... after scouring the Panama Papers documents that Mossack Fonseca has not been one of their main conduits. This time, it appears that big Taiwanese banks, law firms and accounting firms did not often use the services of Mossack Fonseca, which does not have a presence in Taiwan. The forty-six Taiwanese brokers that did work with Mossack Fonseca were relatively small-scale consulting firms operating in Greater China. Most of the Taiwanese entities that set up shell companies through the Panamanian law firm were small, unlisted companies or individuals."
Panama's old quarter (or Casco Viejo, Panama) features many architectural styles, from Spanish colonial buildings to French and Antillean townhouses built during the construction of the Panama Canal. The more modern areas of the city have many high-rise buildings, which together form a very dense skyline. There are more than 110 high-rise projects under construction, with 127 already built. The city holds the 45th place in the world by high-rise buildings count.
In 2010, it was estimated that 94.1 percent of the population was literate (94.7 percent of males and 93.5 percent of females). Education in Panama is compulsory for the children between 6 and 18. In recent decades, school enrollment at all levels, but especially at upper levels, has increased significantly. Panama used to participate in the PISA exams but due to debts and unsatisfactory exam results is postponing participation until 2018.
As of the census of 2010, there were 36,484 people, 14,792 households, and 8,613 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,245.2 people per square mile (481.3/km2). There were 17,438 housing units at an average density of 595.2 per square mile (230.1/km2). As of the census of 2010, the racial makeup of the city is 71.6% White, 22.0% African American, 1.6% Asian, 0.5% Native American, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 2.9% from two or more races, and 5.1% Hispanic or Latino of any race.