Panama Papers Whistleblower Speaks Out for First Time, Sends Message to US Congress

By Denisse Moreno
Denisse Moreno
Denisse Moreno
May 6, 2016 Updated: May 8, 2016

The whistleblower behind the Mossack Fonseca data leak has spoken out for the first time on May 6 since the Panama Papers were released last month.

The source sent a manifesto to German paper, Süddeutsche Zeitung, the news organization the whistleblower released the documents to a year ago. 

The paper shared the 11.5 million records from the Panama-based law firm, Mossack Fonseca, with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and other news organizations. The data breach named 12 world leaders and 140 other politicians in connection to offshore companies in 21 tax havens. The names included Vladimir Putin, Argentine president Mauricio Macri, soccer superstar Lionel Messi, and the Prime Minister of Iceland.

Why the Panama Papers Were Released

The source, identified as only “John Doe” wrote “John Doe’s Manifesto,” which explains the reasons why the documents were released.

“Income inequality is one of the defining issues of our time. It affects all of us, the world over,” said the whistleblower.

The source claimed the Panama Papers provide a compelling answer to the questions of why income inequality persists, saying the data leak shows “massive, pervasive corruption.”

The whistleblower said shell companies are often linked to the crime of tax evasion, but it is much more than that.

“They are used to carry out a wide array of serious crimes that go beyond evading taxes,” said the source.

The whistleblower decided to release the data because Mossack Fonseca’s “founders, employees and clients should have to answer for their roles in these crimes.”

The source said only some of the wrongdoings have come to light, and that “It will take years, or possibly decades, for the full extent of the firm’s sordid acts to become known.”

In the manifesto the source said law firm Mossack Fonseca, and its founders and employees—although publicly pleading ignorance—knowingly violated international myriad laws worldwide over and over.

The Source Denied Being a Spy and Had Approached Other News Outlets

“For the record, I do not work for any government or intelligence agency, directly or as a contractor, and I never have. My viewpoint is entirely my own,” said the whistleblower.

The source said the German paper was not the only media outlet he approached to release the documents. The whistleblower said the documents were offered to “several major media outlets.”

Editors reviewed the data but ultimately “chose not to cover them” claimed the source. It is unclear which media organizations declined the Panama Papers.

The source also contacted Wikileaks, without success.

“Even WikiLeaks didn’t answer its tip line repeatedly,” the source said, “The media has failed.”

In the John Doe Manifesto the source says the ICIJ had “rightly” declined to help governments and law enforcement agencies who have sought access to the files.

“I, however, would be willing to cooperate with law enforcements to the extent that I am able,” said the whistleblower.

Criticizes ‘Harsh’ Treatment Towards Whistleblowers

The source was also critical of governments, especially over their harsh approach to whistleblowers.

“I have watched as one after another, whistleblowers and activists in the United States and Europe, have had their lives destroyed by the circumstances they find themselves in after shining a light on obvious wrongdoing,” said the source.

“John Doe” used NSA whistleblower, Edward Snowden, who was charged with espionage by the Obama administration, as an example.

“For his revelations about the NSA, he deserves a hero’s welcome and a substantial prize, not banishment,” the source said.

Calls on US Congress

“I call on the European Commission, the British Parliament, the United States Congress, and all nations to take swift action—not only to protect whistleblowers, but to put an end to the global abuse of corporate registers,” said the source.

In the manifesto, the whistleblower also sent a direct message to the U.S. Congress.

“The United States can clearly no longer trust its fifty states to make sound decisions about their own corporate data. It is long past time for Congress to step in and force transparency by setting standards for disclosure and public access.”

Meanwhile, the Obama administration announced on May 5 a set of financial regulations that would force companies to disclose more information about their owners, in an effort to crackdown on tax evaders and money launderers.

The source concluded the manifesto on a positive note.

“We live in a time of inexpensive, limitless digital storage and fast internet connections that transcend national boundaries. It doesn’t take much to connect the dots: from start to finish, inception to global media distribution, the next revolution will be digitized,” said the source.

“Or perhaps it has already begun.”