The Mossack Fonseca Universe
Organisation: Fusion (United States)
Publication Date: 04/15/2016
Size of team/newsroom:small
DescriptionThe Mossack Fonseca Universe is the most comprehensive look at the network of relationships between the people and companies of the secretive offshore world. This interactive visualization allows viewers to explore connections between the entities that were revealed in the massive data leak known as the Panama Papers. Until now, we only partially knew how sprawling and labyrinthine the shadowy offshore economy actually is, where the true responsibility of a company is masked by a system of shell companies owning other shell companies, that in turn are shareholders in other companies, and so on. By linking these entities together, for the first time we are able to see the expansive structure of connections between these people and organizations. This is important for two main reasons. First, we are able to see which clients and shareholders are the most important connections in the network. Secondly, by mapping this network, we are able to see the structure of the very system people use to obscure responsibility. With over 350,000 entities listed in the data spanning Mossack Fonseca's forty year history of facilitating this secretive system, our analysis shows approximately half of these clients, the companies they create, and the shareholders and beneficiaries of these companies, are all astoundingly connected to each other. This means that most of the people involved move in the same circles. This complements other reporting on specific individuals and organizations, and their use of shell companies, by illustrating that at a high level. The visualization allows the viewer to see the network as a whole, while enabling them to zoom into any area of interest. There is also the option to select, “Leticia Montoya,” who is a Mossack Fonseca employee. Through the documents, we have connected her with at least 10,000 companies as a stand-in director or shareholder. Montoya earns around $900 a month in the HR department of Mossack Fonseca. The other option is to see companies that are in some way connected with the United States. The visualization is currently censored, where labels indicating the type of entity are used instead of the actual names.
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