A Panamanian law firm says that the 11.5 million documents leaked from its offices this week about the offshore bank accounts of the world's powerful, rich and famous were stolen by hackers, not divulged by an insider.
Ramon Fonseca, one of the founders of the Mossack Fonseca firm, said Tuesday, "We rule out an inside job. This is not a leak. This is a hack."
Fonseca said the hacking was carried out from overseas, but did not say what country. "We have a theory and are following it," he said.
Fonseca said his firm, which has set up about 250,000 offshore companies over the last four decades, has lodged a complaint about the leak of the documents with Panamanian prosecutors.
The disclosures about the creation of the offshore accounts have forced several world leaders to defend their investments and say whether they have paid taxes on their profits. Creation of the offshore companies is not illegal, but the accounts have often been used to hide wealth and dodge taxes.
Iceland Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson became the first casualty of the leaks, stepping down after the documents showed that his wife, Anna Sigurlaug Palsdottir, owns a company in the British Virgin Islands that has $4 million in claims against Iceland's collapsed banks, debts that he is helping the government settle.
But Fonseca dismissed concerns about the information in the leaked documents, saying, "The only crime that has been proven is the hack. No one is talking about that. That is the story."
He added, "We don't understand. The world is already accepting that privacy is not a human right."
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Some material for this report came from AP, AFP and Reuters.