Listen free for 30 days

£7.99/month after 30 days. Cancel anytime

Summary

Late one evening, investigative journalist Bastian Obermayer receives an anonymous message offering him access to secret data. Through encrypted channels he then receives documents showing a mysterious bank transfer for $500,000,000 in gold. This is just the beginning.

Obermayer and fellow Süddeutsche Zeitung journalist Frederik Obermaier find themselves immersed in a secret world where complex networks of shell companies help to hide people who don't want to be found. Faced with the largest data leak in history, they activate an international network of journalists to follow every possible line of enquiry.

Operating for over a year in the strictest secrecy, they uncover a global elite living by a different set of rules: prime ministers, dictators, oligarchs, princelings, sports officials, big banks, arms smugglers, mafiosi, diamond miners, art dealers and celebrities. The real-life thriller behind the story of the century, The Panama Papers is an intense, pause-resisting account that blows their secret world wide open.

©2016 Frederik Obermaier and Bastian Obermayer (P)2016 Audible, Ltd

Critic reviews

"The biggest leak in the history of data journalism." (Edward Snowden)
"This is the inside story of how governments, corporations and organised crime groups have used the secret world of offshore jurisdictions to engage in systematic cheating and thieving. It's an almost perfect tale for the 21st century - the failure of democracy, the triumph of commercial power and greed, greed, greed." (Nick Davies, special correspondent, Guardian)

What listeners say about The Panama Papers

Average customer ratings
Overall
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    372
  • 4 Stars
    106
  • 3 Stars
    33
  • 2 Stars
    2
  • 1 Stars
    3
Performance
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    355
  • 4 Stars
    80
  • 3 Stars
    26
  • 2 Stars
    2
  • 1 Stars
    2
Story
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    338
  • 4 Stars
    87
  • 3 Stars
    31
  • 2 Stars
    6
  • 1 Stars
    1

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • c
  • 13-03-18

Leaves me feeling angry and ashamed.

Other reviewers have written many words of well deserved praise for everyone involved in the brave world-wide release of the Panama Papers, not least 'John Doe' and the two journalists/ authors. I can't improve on these. I think this book should now be compulsory reading within schools and universities, as a reminder of how these despicable financial practices line the bottomless pockets of the 1% uber-rich. This being at the cost of the rest of us-the 99%, many of whom live in abject poverty because of the theft of revenue from their government's coffers. Maybe this level of constant exposure would bring the subject back to the attention of the public where it belongs, and should remain, until off-shore tax havens are abolished forever.

Why has it all now disappeared from public attention (i.e.Newspapers and TV) in the UK when many of the worst offenders operate from British territories? As the novel explains, this is because many of the uber-rich have now bought into our newspapers and media (and those in other countries too) to ensure that we all eventually forget to keep an eye on exactly what respective governments are doing to end what is, in any language, tax evasion!

No wonder I'm angry and ashamed as a result of listening to the Panama Papers, one of the best buys from Audible...ever!

15 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

A must-read. Simple as that

Absolutely loved this. Detailed insight into the making of the definitive piece of investigative journalism of the current era.

9 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Awesome

Loved it, gripping and interesting. Would recommend it to anyone intrigued by this worldly topic.

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Riveting story of financial misdeeds

I was engrossed by this pacy and fascinating account of how two German journalists organised a world-wide analysis of masses of detailed financial information leaked to them by an anonymous informant, Documents that revealed the extraordinary lengths to which the rich and powerful go to to avoid tax or cover-up fraud. The amount of data is mind-boggling: the equivalent of literary millions of pages.

The information was from the internal documents of the Panama City law firm, Mossack Fonseca, with links to off-shore financial havens world-wide. The firm created thousands of shell companies that were (and are) created to hide the real owners of the stored money and other assets. A facility exploited by organized crime. I was not surprised to learn that the despots of the world engage in this kind of activity to cover up filching the assets of their countries, but was dismayed by how common the practice is among politicians and leaders of so many organisations.

Apart from generating a sense of outrage at the sheer greed of those with power and money and the shady lawyers who carry out the dirty work, I was impressed by the world-wide network of investigative journalists organised to analyse the data relevant to their respective countries. All the more extraordinary was that not one of them leaked the fact that they were uncovering explicit evidence of tax evasion and fraud by well-known people and in some cases putting themselves at considerable risk.

Even though the Panama Papers have lifted the lid on many involved in tax evasion and fraud, and some action is being taken, the problem will not go away as long as there is no international clamping down on shell companies. But I fear this will never happen as so many politicians and their cronies have had, and probably still use, these companies to avoid or reduce their tax liabilities.

The narrator is first rate and brings a passion to the text.

9 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Terrible pronunciation of German words

The narrator's pronunciation of German words is rather terrible. It spoils an otherwise good performance.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

A vitally important story, poorly told.

In 2016 the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung broke one of the biggest international scandals in history. Thanks to a whistleblower, simply known as ‘John Doe’, two journalists managed to get hold of a huge data leak taken from the Panamanian law firm and corporate service, Mossack Fonseca. This is their story.
Mixed and hidden amongst all that data were the names of some of the most wealthy and powerful people on earth including many heads of state, celebrities, and members of _the 1%_, all of which were using Mossack Fonseca in order to hide their wealth from their governments in order to avoid paying their share of taxes.
The anger that broils when hearing the stories they uncovered; the injustice of how the rich make their own rules in a system that simply does not work for the ordinary person, is intense. When you sit down and consider what exactly all those numbers and transactions and accounts truly mean, it is infuriating. These shell companies, set up in order hide assets, are not just a way of fooling governments - the real fools are the ordinary people who pay their fair share under the assumption that we are all in it together.
A massive amount of credit must go to the brothers Obermay/ier for how they helped bring this global story to the front pages of papers all across the world. This would not have been possible without the collaboration of many, many other journalists who took on a monumental and frankly dangerous task of working with strangers with the help of the ICIJ.
There is no doubt this was an extremely important story to get out there and, even now in 2020, the ramifications are still occurring. The fall from power of FIFA officials, sanctions against tax dodgers such as Barcelona legend Lionel Messi, and the dismissing of heads of state such as Icelandic prime minister Gunnlaugsson can all be linked to the Panama Papers.
And so deep is the throve of data that there may still be more to come. At the very least, the threat of such leaks may dissuade others from continuing the practice though in all likelihood, people with such intentions will just find a better way of hiding their traces.
This is a story worth telling but unfortunately it is not a great read. I can only imagine the bombshell it created when it originally broke and was published in article form but as a book it is overly complicated and longwinded.
The essence of it, the message it is trying to spread, is so important to get out, that it is frustrating that so much is lost by dwelling on things that most people will care little about, or understand.
Do we really need to know about how many computers the newspaper had to acquire in order to hold and process the data load? This is just an example but only because I completely glazed over so much of the information on off-shore accounts and names on contracts etc etc.
I’m not a fool but I did struggle to follow the intricacies of these sort of things and it just took me out of the story. At the same time, despite the jargon, I could understand enough to know what was going on, which makes me wonder why these things were necessary in the first place. I am sure there are plenty of people out there who will appreciate such a deep layer of detail but I believe a story like this needs to be read by as many people as possible and these tangents of complexity will undoubtedly put a lot of people off.
So as a book I am not much of a fan. I often found chapters boring and unending, wondering why this is even relevant. But as a story, it is dramatic and harrowing and packs a deep emotional punch. I only wish the telling of it had been better.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

A very slow burn

A good story in general, but with a lot of redundant parts that required little to no explaonation

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Fascinating true story

This is an amazing story, it reads like a detective novel but is all true. Should be required reading.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Fascinating, disturbing and a cause of outrage

Although potential readers might imagine that a book about tax evasion and financial corruption is going to be dry they could not be more wrong. The human story of the process of analysis, investigation and revelation is deeply engaging and often amusing. The greater understanding of how corrupt financial practices shape politics has me outraged, and wanting to do more to effect changes to reduce this criminal behaviour.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Mind blowing

The scale of these leaks is astounding and this book is an essential read for anyone interested in how the global elite avoid fair contributions to society.

1 person found this helpful

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Craig S Smith
  • Craig S Smith
  • 06-12-18

highly recommended for the ears of the 99% and 1%

Sickening to learn that 1) the majority of native Africans [and those severely disadvantaged in other regions] are in their plight due to the amoral deeds of their supposedly elected leaders conspiring with crooked law firms and "The 1%" to steal the wealth of the governed and 2) that the financial crisis of '07/'08 could have been prevented if individuals (including corporations deemed to be equivalent to individuals with the 14th amendment of the U. S. Constitution) couldn't evade their tax obligations as to which the 99% must adhere.

6 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Justin D
  • Justin D
  • 31-07-19

It was alright.

The book was like running full speed towards the edge of a cliff and jumping off just to find out that you jumped off the curb from the sidewalk to the street.

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Donnie
  • Donnie
  • 02-03-19

Finally, the details of this story connected!

Great work to all involved in putting this together. Thank you for protecting the interests of the public.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Jeff Lacy
  • Jeff Lacy
  • 29-01-20

Thrilling story of the abuse of offshore corporate formation

A book with a lot of wow power. Thrilling and engaging. Never lets up. The account of the basis of the Panama Papers, how the two terabytes of information evolved, the 400 journalists around the world were recruited to write the articles based on the information. It is an incredible story. See also, Jake Bernstein’s, SECRECY WORLD. Simon Shepherd does an outstanding job narrating the story.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Beje
  • Beje
  • 22-06-19

Down Right Scary -- No Kidding!

There is so much information in this book that it takes a lot of effort and thought to keep the people and data straight. It is very disarming and troubling. It discloses substantial economic assets about the highest and most powerful world leaders from many countries. It's a who's who and how-to navigate and secrete treasures. The amount of funds attributed per person or company is too much to wrap my head around. Hulu has a documentary about the Panama Papers. It closely follows the book. I was glad that I had read the book before watching the documentary (which I saw twice). This is a worthwhile read.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Aivaras
  • Aivaras
  • 28-03-19

A bit dull, but nevertheless an eye-opening account

I wanted to love this book, but I couldn’t get into it. It is written in a thorough, systematic and very German approach. Although the subject was interesting, I would find myself spacing out and not paying attention for big parts of this book. The narration didn’t help, either. Nevertheless, it’s an eye-opening account what actually happened and how messed up of a company MOSFON really was in helping so many of the worlds elite and shady characters hide their wealth. We can only hope that one day people will say enough is enough and do something about it.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Kris
  • Kris
  • 29-04-21

Eye opening and sometimes overwhelming

It's amazing how much corruption exists amongst the elite of the world exposed in this book. An overwhelming amount of instances illustrated in this book. Enjoyable and heavy.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Khalid Gimba
  • Khalid Gimba
  • 27-06-20

one of the best books I've ever listen-read. Great

one of the best books I've ever listen-read. Great job and kudos to the Ober brothers.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Jason S
  • Jason S
  • 20-06-20

Secrets of the rich & powerful

Society has a broken system for the rich & powerful, who'll use all their power to remain so.

This book reveals covers the white collar crimes and controversial methods: from setting up offshore entities for assets (e.g. entity to hold a boat, to hold stock), to having a foreign Panamanian citizen to hold your asset in title only. Most fearful is the involvement of the high level government officials, from every major countries (US/UK/China). Taking advantage to abuse the systemic grey areas and loopholes at every opportunity. These are not the stories an average citizen would have heard of, had it not been for this leak.

These stories are real, and these journalists were incredibly brave. Reporting on this tax fraud and evasion on such an unprecedented and massive scale, all the journalists are at risk of having an "accident", all the time. I doubt those risk go away even as this book is published.

Thank you, for covering this.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for A Happy Historian
  • A Happy Historian
  • 13-06-20

Fascinating read

Highly recommend this book. It’s a page turner packed with information. If you’re interested in the world of finance, this is a must read.