How Countries Seek to Strengthen Anti-Money Laundering Laws in Response to the Panama Papers, and the Ethical Implications of Incentivizing Whistleblowers

Del Mundo, Carmina Franchesca S. | December 9, 2019

The Panama Papers is currently the world’s largest whistleblower case that involved 11.5 million leaked documents and over 214,000 offshore entities. It all linked back to one Panamanian law firm, Mossack Fonseca. In 2016, over 400 investigative journalists collaboratively and simultaneously published stories that exposed the money laundering and tax-evading schemes committed by the rich and powerful. This included political figures and heads of states, celebrities, sports figures, criminal organizations, and terrorist groups.

This article aims to dissect the innerworkings of Mossack Fonseca’s asset-shielding strategy and investigate how the Panamanian law firm was able to circumvent the tax and anti-money laundering laws of over 50 countries. We will also examine the global responses to the Panama Papers, the proposed reforms and strategies, and the obstacles to moving forward. Finally, this article explores the ethical duties of lawyers, the significance of attorney-client privilege, and the implications of monetarily incentivizing whistleblowers.