The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) has revealed that round-two of the so-called 'Panama Papers' disclosures is now on the horizon.
This time, the group said the trove of sensitive financial data leaked from Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca will be in a searchable format from 9 May. It will consist of information on over 200,000 offshore entities alongside "trusts, foundations and funds incorporated in 21 tax havens, from Hong Kong to Nevada in the United States."
ICIJ's deputy director Marina Walker Guevara said: "The database will likely be the largest ever release of secret offshore companies and the people behind them."
When the first round of 'Panama Papers' disclosures were made public the impact was immediate. The ICIJ investigation revealed alleged offshore dealings of world-leaders, politicians and celebrities. Despite releasing a massive leak of data, the ICIJ was quick to distance itself from comparisons to other whistle-blowing organisations such as WikiLeaks. "We're not WikiLeaks. We're trying to show that journalism can be done responsibly," ICIJ director Gerald Ryle told Wired on 4 April.
That attitude still stands. "ICIJ won't release personal data en-masse," said Guevara. "The database will not include records of bank accounts and financial transactions, emails and other correspondence, passports and telephone numbers. The selected and limited information is being published in the public interest. While the database opens up a world that has never been revealed on such a massive scale, the application will not be a 'data dump' of the original documents – it will be a careful release of basic corporate information."
In response, the Twitter account of WikiLeaks, which is believed to be managed by owner Julian Assange, slammed the group's reluctance to release the damning financial data in full.
"@ICIJorg is setting a very dangerous and short-sighted international standard where everything is censored by default," the WikiLeaks Twitter account said on 27 April. In a separate post, the WikiLeaks account wrote: "It is [a] threat to all to erect this as the 'responsible' way for media to behave."
The ICIJ has said the searchable database will be published on 9 May at offshoreleaks.icij.org.