In case you haven’t caught all the details of The Panama Papers, here’s a recap:
What are the Panama Papers?
The Panama Papers is the name given to the largest data leak journalists have ever encountered: 2.6 terabytes of data consisting of 11.5 million files.
Where did they come from?
The records came from the database of the world’s fourth biggest offshore law firm, Mossack Fonseca. They were acquired by an anonymous source that sent them to the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, who then shared the data with the Washington-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ).
What do they reveal?
Records indicate secret offshore tax havens used by 14,153 clients. Among these clients were 143 prominent politicians—12 of those well-recognized national leaders, their close associates & families.
Russia’s Vladimir Putin had an estimated two BILLION dollars offshore; others with embarrassing offshore wealth reported are Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif; Alaa Mubarak, son of the Egyptian former President; and the prime minister of Iceland, Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson, who was one of the first to step aside in the wake of the scandal.
Of particular interest to British readers is the existence of an offshore investment fund that never paid tax in Britain. And who ran this fund? Ian Cameron, late father of British Prime Minister David Cameron. Cameron admitted profiting from his investment in this fund, but claims he paid taxes on all profits.
There were international business leaders and celebrities implicated as well. And, naturally, many of those named in the leak have claimed that they have broken no laws.
But serious repercussions have already occurred, including Swiss authorities raiding the headquarters of the Union of European Football Associations, the resignation of Michael Grahammer, CEO of Austrian lender Hypo Landesbank Vorarlberg, and, curiously, the resignation of Gonzalo Delaveau Swett, president of global anticorruption group Transparency Chile.
These disclosures and more can be found here.
Big news, and a big day for investigative journalism.
But let’s ask a few questions after we consider this:
215,000 offshore shell companies
143,153 client records
11.5 million documents
2.6 terabytes of data
Think of the sheer volume of data.
A single terabyte of storage can hold about 3.6 million high quality images or 300 hours of good quality video files. When it comes to documents, the 2.6 terabytes of data comprising the Panama Papers could equate to approximately 2,600 copies of the entire Encyclopedia Britannica. That is a LOT of data!
So who sorted through it all, and how did they do it?
Turns out the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) had help. They utilized data discovery software, graph database technology, and visualization software to analyze the documents.
The Chief Executive Officer of one of the vendors who supplied the graph database software, Emil Eifrem, noted that only companies with big data technologies could pull it off. And these big data technologies have largely only been around since 2006, since Google’s “Big Table” paper was published and Hadoop was invented at Yahoo.
“Government agencies, such as the NSA in the US and GCHQ in the UK, have… had this capacity, said Eifrem . “We are democratising that capability. And it is not just about counting words, but connecting the dots… This leak could have happened 10 years ago and no one would have written about it.”
No one would have written about it, because the volume of the data would have been largely insurmountable to analyze. But not today.
We live in a world of big data—a world where vast volumes of information can be scanned and intelligently analyzed quicker than ever before. A world where journalists can publish headlines about some of the most powerful people in the world—because they were able to analyzing, verify, and validate the truth behind the story they could now tell with integrity.
Computer and software power has grown exponentially, and the real world has changed, quickly:
- Law firms depend on smart eDiscovery solutions to help them analyze volumes of case data and prepare for court.
- The IRS has cut back—way back—on audits, but uses document management software to issue CP 2000 notices demanding payment when individual returns don’t add up.
- Human Resources departments and government entities who must track analyze, and share employee performance information have embraced big data so much that a Towers Watson survey of more than 1,000 organizations’ HR departments found data and analytics to a top 3 area of HR spending.
Your business can have access to the same kind of technological solutions. Your business can analyze all the data important to you—quickly and efficiently. And your business will make better decisions with better access to data.
That’s the reason 5i Solutions Inc. exists.
5i offers Innovative Ideas for Intelligent Interaction with Information. That means cutting-edge, intelligent business technology solutions specifically tailored to your needs.
Paper converted to digital ‘smart data’ for ease of use and accessibility. Document Management systems to instantly access to any document, or any piece of any document. eDiscovery and Case Management software to help legal teams save time and money in preparing stronger cases to win in court. Cloud Vault data storage solutions that provide 24/7 365 access with complete security yet allow you to interact with your important information whenever you want, from wherever you are.
A link between the Panama Papers and Enron
By the way, a last historical perspective: the Enron financial crisis happened back in 2002. In preparation for court, there were over 150 million pages– actual physical pages– of data. 320 attorneys needed access to the information in them. How best to analyze all this and make it available to all in such a high-profile case?
The court decided this:
“All Designated Parties will participate using iCONECT, a document storage and online retrieval service that has been purchased for this case.” –September 26th, 2002, United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas (Houston Division)
5i Solutions was just named a Platinum Partner with iCONECT. They were good back in 2002– and you should see what you can do with them now! We’d be glad to show you!
5i Solutions. One single, secure point of intake, access, and storage. One singular solution.
5i Solutions, Inc.