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Panama Papers leak claims its first victim

Prime minister of Iceland resigns following mass protests after an enormous leak of documents from a secretive law firm about tax havens and offshore shell companies.

Thousands of protesters in Iceland demanded their prime minister's resignation over revelations in the Panama Papers.
Xie Binbin/Xinhua Press/Corbis

The first domino has fallen after a massive trove of leaked documents exposed how the world's rich and powerful hide their money.

Iceland's prime minister, Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson, resigned over revelations about his personal finances found in the documents, which are being called the Panama Papers.

Nearly 10,000 Icelanders protested in the capital Reykjavik on Monday, according to Bloomberg, after reports based on the leaked documents revealed that Gunnlaugsson allegedly benefited from offshore investment accounts in tax havens. Gunnlaugsson's resignation was announced Tuesday on television by government minister Sigurður Ingi Jóhannsson and confirmed by state broadcaster RUV.

The more than 11 million legal and financial records, which amount to 2.6 terabytes of data, were stolen from Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca's servers. The documents were given to German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, which worked with reporters around the world to publish stories based on them.

Ramon Fonseca, a co-founder of Mossack Fonseca, told local media that the documents had been obtained illegally by hackers, reported Bloomberg. Some reports suggest that the documents may have been taken in an email server attack.

The leak revealed ethically questionable but often legal offshore holdings and tax havens of 140 politicians and public officials around the world, according to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, including President Mauricio Macri of Argentina, President Petro O. Poroshenko of Ukraine, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif of Pakistan and King Salman of Saudi Arabia. Russian President Vladimir Putin and officials from beleaguered soccer organization FIFA were also implicated in the leak. The ICIJ says the Panama Papers expose a "system that enables crime, corruption and wrongdoing, hidden by secretive offshore companies."