The Guardian has started to drip-feed a number of articles based on a massive database of “documents and emails” that have been leaked from the British Virgin Islands on the territories’ secretive offshore business.
David Leigh, the Guardian’s investigations executive editor, says that the bounty has the “potential to cause a seismic shock to the booming [global] offshore trade”.
And the sheer mass of documents – which comprises details of more than 122,000 offshore companies and trusts - may prove him right.
The Guardian says that more than two million emails and other files (including four large databases) totalling more than 260GB have been passed on to a group of international media outlets (including the Washington Post and the BBC) headed by the Washington-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ).
Amongst the names published by the Guardian in its first series of articles are a president in office, a former finance minister, the wife of the Russia’s deputy prime minister and many more.
Interestingly, the ICIJ website appears to be experiencing some heavy traffic, so much so that the actual index page for its Offshore section is no longer available (although you can still access the cached version courtesy of Google).
In comparison, the Wikileaks database of U.S. State Department cables was only 2GB and contained around 220,000 emails.