Sometimes the best stories aren't the ones you didn't know. Sometimes, the best stories are the ones you were 99 percent certain that you DID know -- and now here's your proof. Increasingly, social observers and commentators have described much of our modern 21st Century as a "kleptocracy" -- a system that surpasses democracy, communism, totalitarianism, and any other -ism you can think of.
A system of government run by thieves.
So...what did it take to confirm what we already knew? -- a) a massive leak of documents from Panamanian law firm that helps millionaires and billionaires to hide their wealth and b) a massive team of journalists, from roughly 100 news organizations all over the world, that spent weeks sifting through the gigantic data dump (we told you that investigative reporting is expensive!) The result was some revelations that maybe aren't so shocking -- like how the close pals of Russia's Vladimir Putin, including a cello player (!), made off with about $2 billion in cash -- and some that are a surprise. For example, the prime minister of alleged goody-two-shoes Iceland is in serious hot water over his Panamanian stash.
Twelve national leaders are among 143 politicians, their families and close associates from around the world known to have been using offshore tax havens.
A $2bn trail leads all the way to Vladimir Putin. The Russian president's best friend – a cellist called Sergei Roldugin - is at the centre of a scheme in which money from Russian state banks is hidden offshore. Some of it ends up in a ski resort where in 2013 Putin's daughter Katerina got married.
Among national leaders with offshore wealth are Nawaz Sharif, Pakistan's prime minister; Ayad Allawi, ex-interim prime minister and former vice-president of Iraq; Petro Poroshenko, president of Ukraine; Alaa Mubarak, son of Egypt's former president; and the prime minister of Iceland, Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson.
In the UK, six members of the House of Lords, three former Conservative MPs and dozens of donors to British political parties have had offshore assets.
The families of at least eight current and former members of China's supreme ruling body, the politburo, have been found to have hidden wealth offshore.
Twenty-three individuals who have had sanctions imposed on them for supporting the regimes in North Korea, Zimbabwe, Russia, Iran and Syria have been clients of Mossack Fonseca. Their companies were harboured by the Seychelles, the British Virgin Islands, Panama and other jurisdictions.
A key member of Fifa's powerful ethics committee, which is supposed to be spearheading reform at world football's scandal-hit governing body, acted as a lawyer for individuals and companies recently charged with bribery and corruption.
One leaked memorandum from a partner of Mossack Fonseca said: "Ninety-five per cent of our work coincidentally consists in selling vehicles to avoid taxes."
There's just one thing that nobody gets about the Panama Papers. Why such little involvement from Americans? Are we really cleaner than the rest of the world? Or are we just smarter about hiding our ill-gotten gains? Most experts say the latter. One told Fusion: "What's happened is that they [Americans] discovered that they really don't need to go to Panama. Delaware has trusts. Forty-nine states now offer LLCs… Basically, we have an onshore haven industry in the US that is as secretive as anywhere."
Don't think this has nothing to do with America? All the pundits out there struggling to understand why there is so much anger, and what is fueling the rise of unconventional politicians such as Donald Trump or Sen. Bernie Sanders....THIS kind of stuff is what's making people furious. The way that billionaires have stashed their wealth, paid taxes at a lower rate than their secretaries, and sent your job overseas. The facts of what we've long suspected -- that a handful of insiders have rigged the game while you work harder and harder, for less and less. Just wait until the other shoe drops.