Panama Papers whistleblower speaks out on income inequality & corruption

© Yuriko Nakao
The whistleblower behind the leak of the Panama Papers has spoken out in a manifesto that calls income inequality “one of the defining issues of our time” and reveals how large media organizations and Wikileaks weren’t allegedly interested in the leak.

The treatise entitled “John Doe’s Manifesto” was published in Süddeutsche Zeitung on Friday. It starts by dubbing income inequality as one of the “defining issues of our time,” while asserting that the Panama Papers provide the answer to why inequality has increased, claiming that corruption is to blame.

John Doe accuses Mossack Fonseca of using “its influence to write and bend laws worldwide to favour the interests of criminals over a period of decades,” alleging that it “actually did knowingly violate myriad laws worldwide, repeatedly.” He maintains “publicly they plead ignorance, but the documents show detailed knowledge and deliberate wrongdoing.”

The source denies being a spy or working for any government, explaining that he decided to share the information because he “understood enough about their contents to realize the scale of the injustices they described.”


Doe says everyone is well aware of the consequences of whistleblowing. “I have watched as one after another, whistleblowers and activists in the United States and Europe have had their lives destroyed by the circumstances they find themselves in after shining a light on obvious wrongdoing. Edward Snowden is stranded in Moscow, exiled due to the Obama administration’s decision to prosecute him under the Espionage Act.”

The source believes Snowden deserves “a hero’s welcome and a substantial prize, not banishment.”

READ MORE: Oliver Stone’s Snowden movie trailer drops (VIDEO)

“Legitimate whistleblowers who expose unquestionable wrongdoing, whether insiders or outsiders, deserve immunity from government retribution, full stop. Until governments codify legal protections for whistleblowers into law, enforcement agencies will simply have to depend on their own resources or on-going global media coverage for documents,” Doe said. 

Law Enforcement

The source says that although the ICIJ and media publications have refused to share the documents with law enforcement, he is willing to do so.

“Until governments codify legal protections for whistleblowers into law, enforcement agencies will simply have to depend on their own resources or on-going global media coverage for documents,” he said.

Doe called on the European Commission, the British Parliament, and the US Congress to “put an end to the global abuse of corporate registers.”

READ MORE: Tides may be turning for shell companies: Obama releases plan to close offshore finances loophole

The source had scathing comments for governments and the media for their failure to take on corruption. “While it’s one thing to extol the virtues of government transparency at summits and in sound bites, it’s quite another to actually implement it,” he said.

On Thursday, President Obama announced a crackdown on international offshore banking loopholes in response to the Panama Papers leak.

Doe had harsh words for US politics in particular, pointing to the system’s dependence on campaign donors. “Tax evasion cannot possibly be fixed while elected officials are pleading for money from the very elites who have the strongest incentives to avoid taxes relative to any other segment of the population.”

READ MORE: Hillary Clinton's wealthy donors revealed in Panama Papers

Jennifer Shasky Calvery, the Treasury’s former director of Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, was singled out as an example of the problem because of her new position with notorious HSBC bank, which recently weathered a money laundering scandal, getting off the hook with just a $1.9 billion fine.

In the UK, he accused the Conservatives of being “shameless about concealing their own practices involving offshore companies.”

Doe used the term “Tories” to refer to the Conservative party, suggesting that he may be from the UK.

READ MORE: Cameron proposes global anti-corruption body … with zero law enforcement powers


Doe discusses the failures that contributed to the system of corruption in which the Papers were born. Banks, financial regulators, tax authorities, legal systems and governments have all failed. Decisions have been made “that have spared the wealthy while focusing instead on reigning in middle and low income citizens.”

Doe accuses the media of failings, describing news networks as “Cartoonish parodies of their former selves.”

The manifesto reveals the “sad truth” that the most “prominent and capable” media organizations looked at the documents before the leak was made public and chose not to run with them, despite “explicit claims to the contrary.”

The revelation is likely to embarrass networks that are no doubt covering the leak now.

Perhaps most surprising was the claim that WikiLeaks didn’t respond to contact made by the whistleblower.


Doe points out that the recent debate around tax havens only started after the Panama Paper leak, just as the conversation on government surveillance and privacy grew out of Edward Snowden’s NSA revelations. He finished by pointing to the fact we live in a time of “limitless digital storage and fast internet that transcend national boundaries.”

“It doesn’t take much to connect the dots,” Doe said. “From start to finish, inception to global media distribution, the next revolution will be digitized.”