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The Panama Papers FAQ

The Panama Papers FAQ

By Wolfgang Krach, Editor in Chief, Süddeutsche Zeitung

Will Süddeutsche Zeitung make all Panama Papers available?

No. We, Süddeutsche Zeitung (SZ) won't make all the data publicly available and neither will we hand the data over to law enforcement authorities. Süddeutsche Zeitung is not working for public prosecutors or tax collectors. Public prosecutors or investigators already today have the right to confiscate data in Germany or abroad if they have a reasonable suspicion.

Will Süddeutsche Zeitung publish all names turning up in the Panama Papers?

SZ is published under German jurisdiction and therefore will not publish all names which can be found. Many companies or private citizens don't fulfil the necessary legal requirements to be named. Before going public we have to establish a case for justifiable public interest. Such a justifiable interest can for example be claimed if there is initial suspicion that a public person committed a crime, i.e. tax fraud. One fictitious example: A prominent German financial manager hides his property on the island of Mallorca in a shell corporation. However, he is paying taxes on that property. There would be little reason to report on this case. As in most other cases this would not be in accordance with German media laws.

Why does Süddeutsche Zeitung not report about Western politicians, for example from Germany or the United States? Are there any to be found in the Panama Papers?

Until now we have not found any traces in the Panama Papers of politicians from Germany or the US. The only case we found so far was about the former treasurer of the German CDU party, Helmut Linssen. He held an offshore company founded by Mossack Fonseca. When this case became public in 2014, Linssen resigned as treasurer. Süddeutsche Zeitung reported about the case at the time.

Why did Süddeutsche Zeitung choose exactly this publication date?

Before publication an extensive research was conducted over months. Meetings with 400 journalists involved took place on various continents. We choose to publicize the material at the earliest possible moment.

What´s the genuine motivation of the source?

As we reported already: The source offered a truly moral reason for his offer. “I want these crimes to be made public”, he told SZ.

Did the source hack Mossack Fonseca, as the firm claims?

We don't know how the source obtained the data.

Who is financing the ICIJ and why is SZ working with this network of investigative journalists?

For years Süddeutsche Zeitung has been working successfully with ICIJ in international research projects. We chose ICIJ as a partner for the Panama Papers, because our cooperation is close, trustworthy and professional as well as the cooperation with “The Guardian”. ICIJ also has high expertise and lots of experience in making data useable for journalistic purposes. This was extremely helpful in the Panama case. ICIJ, founded in 1997, is an international association for investigative journalism. It has 200 members worldwide, among them four reporters from Süddeutsche Zeitung. ICIJ is part of the Center for Public Integrity (CPI), a US non-profit organisation for investigative journalism. CPI and ICIJ are financed by donations. Recently, funders included foundations from Australia, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and the United States. Among them were the Ford Foundation, the Adessium Foundation, the Open Society (founded by George Soros) and the Pulitzer Center of Crisis Reporting.