On April 3, 2016 the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) released the “Panama Papers”, a collection of leaked offshore financial records exposing the hidden “tax haven” activities of over 140 public figures, criminals, and celebrities. According to the ICIJ, the 214,488 leaked records came from Panama’s Mossack Fonseca law firm, one of the world’s top creator of shell companies.
The findings have greatly impacted political systems and countries around the world.
Accordingly, news outlets have been consistently covering the leak. According to MediaMiser, as of 12:00 p.m. ET on Tuesday, April 5, 2016, there have been nearly 36,000 online articles published—and that number is rapidly increasing.
MediaMiser has analyzed these articles to better understand which prominent figures are most associated with current online news reports, and what their reactions have been.
Prominent political figures of the Panama Papers
Vladimir Putin, though not personally accused of using tax havens and shell companies, is the most mentioned public figure in the Panama Papers, having been mentioned in over 15,000 articles to date. Known associates of the Russian president have been accused of secretly moving nearly $2 billion in assets through tax havens and shadow companies, driving Putin’s popularity in news stories related to the Panama Papers. Famed Russian cellist Sergei Roldugin, one of the aforementioned associates, was the least mentioned of personalities named in the study with just over 2,000 online news mentions. The Kremlin has dismissed allegations against Putin as “Putinphobia”.
The second-most mentioned public figure of the Panama Papers is British Prime Minister David Cameron, due to his late father’s dealings in offshore accounts. Currently, Cameron has refused to acknowledge family ties to tax haven activities but continues to feel the heat from fellow parliamentarians and constituents. According to online news, the UK government has vowed to probe and confirm the validity of the data presented in the Panama Papers.
Current President of Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko, has been personally accused in the Panama Papers. The leaked documents claim the Ukrainian president went as far as finding a home utility bill to open an offshore account in the British Virgin Islands during the 2014 Russian invasion of Ukraine. According to BBC, Petro Poroshenko continues to deny tax claims.
Sigmundur Gunnlaugsson, former Prime Minister of Iceland as of April 5, 2016, was forced to step down from his government position after evidence proved Gunnlaugsson’s wife owned offshore firms with claims in collapsed Icelandic banking institutions. Gunnlaugsson, despite resigning, has said “no rules were broken and his wife did not benefit financially.”
Some of China’s top communist families, including that of Chinese president Xi Jinping, have also been accused of secretly moving money to tax havens following the Panama Papers revelations. His brother-in-law, Deng Jiagui, has been accused of acquiring offshore companies as he rose through the political ranks. China has censored any online discussion on the matter.
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