121

FOLLOWING THE MONEY TRAIL

The Panama Papers is a remarkable work of investigative journalism at the centre of which lies a huge data of internal communications between Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca which specialises in the incorporation of business firms in tax havens and its over two lakh clients over a period of 40 years. It was a sheer amount of work, and a risky one at that, for the two ordinary correspondents, who finally go on to author the book under review, to read the entire data and cull stories, which involved both the high and mighty and also the dreaded from around the world. But the most difficult task that they had on hand was to make sure that their ultimate work from the data mountain and the maze of firms and their directors is not only easy to read but also breaks as a major news in the international press. In other words, they had to ensure their work does not fall with a thud and draws a yawn from their readers. The book is a brilliant example how journalistic copies are still the best way to put across complex subjects and complicated information. Spread over 30 chapters, this 350-page book has each chapter of almost the same word-length as in a standard big write-up in a newspaper. The sentences are short and simple but infomation-rich and devoid of build-up. The story progresses with all self-doubts answered at their first appearance and the remarkable thing about the book and the investigation into the data mountain is that individual stories are easy to read and understand and at the same time they break as major revelations in nearly 40 countries, where heads of state among others had to face difficult times hiding their links with entities in tax havens amid resignation demands. The inequality of wealth among the citizens of a country is stark at the first glance anywhere in the world, and some have it in absurd proportions. Political heads of states and ministers, dictators, top company executives, mafia dons earn millions of dollars amazingly fast and mostly in inexplicable ways. But how such money and the ways in which it has been earned do not catch the attention of investigators and bank officials is a matter of great surprise.