In 2016, an anonymous whistleblower made global headlines by releasing more than 10 million documents from a Panama-based law firm to two reporters. The leak, known as the Panama Papers, exposed illicit financial activity and tax evasion through the use of anonymous offshore shell companies. Now, the Panama Papers whistleblower has given their first-ever interview. The still-anonymous whistleblower spoke at length with the German news outlet Der Spiegel.
The ramifications of the Panama Papers were far-reaching. Massive protests erupted across the globe, politicians exposed in the leak resigned, and over $1 billion in unpaid taxes, fines and penalties have been collected as a result of inquiries sparked by the Panama Papers, according to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. In the U.S., the White House responded to the Panama Papers by proposing oversight reform which included the end of the use of anonymous corporations in the United States and requirements of disclosures of beneficial owners when foreigners deposit money or buy assets in the United States.
The Panama Papers were heralded not only as a demonstration of the global nature of fraud but also of the power a single whistleblower can have in exposing corruption. For the Panama Papers’ five-year anniversary, the National Whistleblower Center (NWC) released a statement celebrating the whistleblower. “As we note the anniversary of the Panama Papers, it’s important to remember and celebrate the whistleblower who made them possible,” NWC stated.
In the new interview, the Panama Papers whistleblower touches on a number of topics. They discuss why they blew the whistle in the first place and why they have continued to remain anonymous. They also speak on the connection of the Panama Papers to current issues like the war in Ukraine and discuss their disappointment with certain law enforcement authorities.
The last question asked of the Panama Papers whistleblower is if they could turn back time, whether or not they would blow the whistle again. “In a heartbeat,” the whistleblower responded.