Investigative journalists posted online for the first time a searchable database revealing the offshore assets of wealthy politicians and celebrities.
The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists database covering more than 200,000 Panamanian shell companies became accessible on May 9 at offshoreleaks.icij.org.
It features information derived from millions of leaked documents from the Panama law firm Mossack Fonseca, which specializes in setting up secret shell companies.
The law firm sought unsuccessfully to block the consortium, which includes editors and reporters from dozens of countries, from publishing the database through a cease-and-desist letter last week.
The consortium has already published a series of high-profile stories in newspapers and websites around the world based on the Panama Papers.
The database contains details on the hidden assets of hundreds of politicians, officials, celebrities, and sports star mentioned in those stories.
But it actually contains just a fraction of the material in the original Panama Papers. It excludes, for example, the company e-mails, financial transactions, scanned passports, and other raw documents that make up the bulk of the leak.
Also, not every owner of a company in the Panama Papers appears in the public database, the consortium said, since some of that information is contained only in Mossack Fonseca's e-mails and internal documents and cannot be systematically extracted.
The consortium says its intent is to increase public awareness about the ways the offshore banking system enables wealthy individuals to evade taxes while corrupt government officials are able to hide their plunder.