The Panama Papers is essentially about a very little country with big consequences, says comedian John Oliver. British Prime Minister David Cameron came in for a particular drubbing, for claiming he had no shares after the massive leak from the Mossack Fonseca law firm in Panama revealed his late father Ian had set up a tax-avoiding offshore account.

John Oliver
John Oliver Getty

"Now, if the present tense there seems a little bit suspicious it may be because it later turned out he had owned shares; he just sold them," Oliver said on HBO's Last Week Tonight on 11 April.

"It's a bit like A-Rod saying he has no steroids in his body. Sure, that's true now, but it wasn't always the case, was it? And that's kind of the point."

Oliver also revelled in Iceland Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson's deer-in-the-headlights, stumbling response to a press question about his links to another offshore account. Gunnlaugsson soon stepped down — to be replaced by Iceland's fisheries minister.

"It seems in Iceland, the line of succession goes prime minister, the guy in charge of the fish, the secretary of licorice-flavoured schnapps, a litany of elves that live in assorted boulders, and finally anyone in a warm sweater who's feeling political," Oliver sniggered. "And if you're thinking: 'C'mon, how could he forget Bjork?' I didn't. She was one of the elves. Pay attention."

Mossack Fonseca director Ramon Fonseca has denied any wrongdoing. He said the firm had suffered a hack on its database and described the leak as "an international campaign against privacy", according to Reuters.