Database revealing thousands of secret offshore companies published

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists has released a searchable database of nearly 214,000 offshore entities created in 21 jurisdictions.

“The data, part of the Panama Papers investigation, is the largest ever release of information about offshore companies and the people behind them. This includes, when available, the names of the real owners of those opaque structures,” wrote ICIJ.

The database contains information about more than 100,000 additional offshore entities ICIJ had already disclosed in its 2013 Offshore Leaks investigation.

ICIJ said that it is not publishing the totality of the leak, and it is not disclosing raw documents or personal information en masse. “The database contains a great deal of information about company owners, proxies and intermediaries in secrecy jurisdictions, but it doesn’t disclose bank accounts, email exchanges and financial transactions contained in the documents,” they added.

The data was originally obtained by reporters at the German newspaper Süeddeustche Zeitung. They shared it with ICIJ, which organized a global investigative project, bringing in more than 370 reporters from nearly 80 countries.

The first Panama Papers stories were published early April, having a powerful impact around the world.

In Hungary, the first stories exposed the hidden offshore interests of two politicians. Zsolt Horváth, a former politician of the governing party Fidesz, became a director of an offshore company while he was still a member of parliament. László Boldvai, a prominent member of the socialist opposition party, was connected to an offshore company with a Swiss bank account through his wife.

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Fidesz condemned Horváth’s offshore activities. Boldvai suspended his party membership, effectively ending his political career. At the request of Hungary’s prime minister, the tax authorities launched an investigation on the Hungarian offshore links exposed by the Panama Papers project.

  • András Pethő

    András is a co-founder, editor and executive director of Direkt36. Previously, he was a senior editor for leading Hungarian news site Origo before it had been transformed into the government’s propaganda outlet. He also worked for the BBC World Service in London and was a reporter at the investigative unit of The Washington Post. He has contributed to several international reporting projects, including The Panama Papers. He twice won the Soma Prize, the prestigious annual award dedicated to investigative journalism in Hungary. He was a World Press Institute fellow in 2008, a Humphrey fellow at the University of Maryland in 2012/13, and a Nieman fellow at Harvard University in 2019/20. András has taught journalism courses at Hungarian universities.