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The Panama Papers

How the World's Rich and Powerful Hide Their Money
Narrated by: Simon Shepherd
Length: 12 hrs and 2 mins
5 out of 5 stars (1 rating)

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Publisher's Summary

Late one evening, investigative journalist Bastian Obermayer receives an anonymous message offering him access to secret data. Through encrypted channels he then receives documents showing a mysterious bank transfer for $500,000,000 in gold. This is just the beginning.

Obermayer and fellow Süddeutsche Zeitung journalist Frederik Obermaier find themselves immersed in a secret world where complex networks of shell companies help to hide people who don't want to be found. Faced with the largest data leak in history, they activate an international network of journalists to follow every possible line of enquiry.

Operating for over a year in the strictest secrecy, they uncover a global elite living by a different set of rules: prime ministers, dictators, oligarchs, princelings, sports officials, big banks, arms smugglers, mafiosi, diamond miners, art dealers and celebrities. The real-life thriller behind the story of the century, The Panama Papers is an intense, pause-resisting account that blows their secret world wide open.

©2016 Frederik Obermaier and Bastian Obermayer (P)2016 Audible, Ltd

Critic Reviews

"The biggest leak in the history of data journalism." (Edward Snowden)
"This is the inside story of how governments, corporations and organised crime groups have used the secret world of offshore jurisdictions to engage in systematic cheating and thieving. It's an almost perfect tale for the 21st century - the failure of democracy, the triumph of commercial power and greed, greed, greed." (Nick Davies, special correspondent, Guardian)

What members say

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  • Craig S Smith
  • 06-12-18

highly recommended for the ears of the 99% and 1%

Sickening to learn that 1) the majority of native Africans [and those severely disadvantaged in other regions] are in their plight due to the amoral deeds of their supposedly elected leaders conspiring with crooked law firms and "The 1%" to steal the wealth of the governed and 2) that the financial crisis of '07/'08 could have been prevented if individuals (including corporations deemed to be equivalent to individuals with the 14th amendment of the U. S. Constitution) couldn't evade their tax obligations as to which the 99% must adhere.

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  • Justin D
  • 31-07-19

It was alright.

The book was like running full speed towards the edge of a cliff and jumping off just to find out that you jumped off the curb from the sidewalk to the street.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Donnie
  • 02-03-19

Finally, the details of this story connected!

Great work to all involved in putting this together. Thank you for protecting the interests of the public.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Aivaras
  • 28-03-19

A bit dull, but nevertheless an eye-opening account

I wanted to love this book, but I couldn’t get into it. It is written in a thorough, systematic and very German approach. Although the subject was interesting, I would find myself spacing out and not paying attention for big parts of this book. The narration didn’t help, either. Nevertheless, it’s an eye-opening account what actually happened and how messed up of a company MOSFON really was in helping so many of the worlds elite and shady characters hide their wealth. We can only hope that one day people will say enough is enough and do something about it.

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  • Jeff Lacy
  • 29-01-20

Thrilling story of the abuse of offshore corporate formation

A book with a lot of wow power. Thrilling and engaging. Never lets up. The account of the basis of the Panama Papers, how the two terabytes of information evolved, the 400 journalists around the world were recruited to write the articles based on the information. It is an incredible story. See also, Jake Bernstein’s, SECRECY WORLD. Simon Shepherd does an outstanding job narrating the story.

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  • marc
  • 17-10-19

brilliant work

Should be read and studied in schools. An important work for the future generations. An important work for humanity.


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  • Fernando Silva
  • 13-09-19

great journalists awful philosophers

statist and political editorializing. fascinating investigative journalism nonetheless. parts of the book are unbareable if you are a libertarian.

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  • MovieFan
  • 02-09-19

Average listening pleasure

The book seems to bound up in micro details. I tended to fall asleep or lose interest. Still, it was worth a listen even if it didn't hold my attention like I thought it would.

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  • Marshall
  • 29-06-19

Amazing story that is well told

An amazing story that is written and told in way that will keep you on the edge of your seat. Make sure you have enough time because once you start it will be nearly impossible to finish!

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  • Beje
  • 22-06-19

Down Right Scary -- No Kidding!

There is so much information in this book that it takes a lot of effort and thought to keep the people and data straight. It is very disarming and troubling. It discloses substantial economic assets about the highest and most powerful world leaders from many countries. It's a who's who and how-to navigate and secrete treasures. The amount of funds attributed per person or company is too much to wrap my head around. Hulu has a documentary about the Panama Papers. It closely follows the book. I was glad that I had read the book before watching the documentary (which I saw twice). This is a worthwhile read.

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  • phil chadwick
  • 18-12-16

A must-read. Simple as that

Absolutely loved this. Detailed insight into the making of the definitive piece of investigative journalism of the current era.

6 people found this helpful

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  • Kirstine
  • 15-07-17

Riveting story of financial misdeeds

I was engrossed by this pacy and fascinating account of how two German journalists organised a world-wide analysis of masses of detailed financial information leaked to them by an anonymous informant, Documents that revealed the extraordinary lengths to which the rich and powerful go to to avoid tax or cover-up fraud. The amount of data is mind-boggling: the equivalent of literary millions of pages.

The information was from the internal documents of the Panama City law firm, Mossack Fonseca, with links to off-shore financial havens world-wide. The firm created thousands of shell companies that were (and are) created to hide the real owners of the stored money and other assets. A facility exploited by organized crime. I was not surprised to learn that the despots of the world engage in this kind of activity to cover up filching the assets of their countries, but was dismayed by how common the practice is among politicians and leaders of so many organisations.

Apart from generating a sense of outrage at the sheer greed of those with power and money and the shady lawyers who carry out the dirty work, I was impressed by the world-wide network of investigative journalists organised to analyse the data relevant to their respective countries. All the more extraordinary was that not one of them leaked the fact that they were uncovering explicit evidence of tax evasion and fraud by well-known people and in some cases putting themselves at considerable risk.

Even though the Panama Papers have lifted the lid on many involved in tax evasion and fraud, and some action is being taken, the problem will not go away as long as there is no international clamping down on shell companies. But I fear this will never happen as so many politicians and their cronies have had, and probably still use, these companies to avoid or reduce their tax liabilities.

The narrator is first rate and brings a passion to the text.

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  • c
  • 13-03-18

Leaves me feeling angry and ashamed.

Other reviewers have written many words of well deserved praise for everyone involved in the brave world-wide release of the Panama Papers, not least 'John Doe' and the two journalists/ authors. I can't improve on these. I think this book should now be compulsory reading within schools and universities, as a reminder of how these despicable financial practices line the bottomless pockets of the 1% uber-rich. This being at the cost of the rest of us-the 99%, many of whom live in abject poverty because of the theft of revenue from their government's coffers. Maybe this level of constant exposure would bring the subject back to the attention of the public where it belongs, and should remain, until off-shore tax havens are abolished forever.

Why has it all now disappeared from public attention (i.e.Newspapers and TV) in the UK when many of the worst offenders operate from British territories? As the novel explains, this is because many of the uber-rich have now bought into our newspapers and media (and those in other countries too) to ensure that we all eventually forget to keep an eye on exactly what respective governments are doing to end what is, in any language, tax evasion!

No wonder I'm angry and ashamed as a result of listening to the Panama Papers, one of the best buys from Audible...ever!

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  • Anonymous User
  • 10-11-19

Terrible pronunciation of German words

The narrator's pronunciation of German words is rather terrible. It spoils an otherwise good performance.

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  • Mr. D. Deegan
  • 23-12-17

Awesome

Loved it, gripping and interesting. Would recommend it to anyone intrigued by this worldly topic.

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  • Colin Howard
  • 23-10-17

Fascinating true story

This is an amazing story, it reads like a detective novel but is all true. Should be required reading.

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  • Craig
  • 21-08-17

Mind blowing

The scale of these leaks is astounding and this book is an essential read for anyone interested in how the global elite avoid fair contributions to society.

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  • Rob Sedgwick
  • 04-05-20

Overlong

I just found this overlong and boring in parts. Long lists of names and what they had done. Not much on the leak at all.

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  • John
  • 25-04-20

Essential learnings on criminal elites.

This book is essential reading for the 99% of us who won't take it any more and for the subset of the 1% who might have a conscience. Perhaps that will never include Amazon!
The biggest story to break in my lifetime, this is the story of brave journalists investigating the causes of famine, collapsed healthcare systems like ours, and crushing poverty. They unravel the story of their investigation like the crime thriller it is.
This and Treasure Islands by Nicholas Shaxson will make you feel inclined to revolt.
Meditate on the side, and you'll be OK. And certainly better informed!

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  • IJ
  • 22-04-20

Great book - outstanding research!

It's not the easiest listen as there is so much information and so many names of people/corporations involved (it becomes a bit of a blur) but all in all a very interesting- and very important book.

It's a shame that the initial shock the world received after these revelation were made didn't stick, the world seems more corrupt now than ever right now.

Regardless, I can highly recommend it to all - and hopefully in some years to come, we may be able to look back on this as a starting point for more transparency around tax, sources of wealth and ethical banking.

One can only hope...

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  • Styff
  • 21-08-18

Brilliant

Well presented, well researched and very nicely narrated.

What else can I say other than, buy it.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 13-02-18

absolute necessity to listen to

amazing. if you didn't already understand oligarchy, or question politics; and especially, especially if you are interested in this broad suggestion, this will amaze , verify and keep you riveted to the end.

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  • Padraig Butler
  • 19-09-17

Excellent story and narration

Really enjoyed the story and the narration. One of the best audiobooks that I have listened to.

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  • Darren
  • 10-09-17

How the criminal rich screw us all.

This has to be one of the most important books of the century. Explains how the top 1% screw the world over and how our governments either are participates or just turn a blind eye.

No conspiracy theories, all based on the greatest data leek in history.