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The Panama Papers leak, explained with an adorable comic about piggy banks

It's easy to get confused by all the headlines about the Panama Papers, a massive 2.6-terabyte leak of documents that reveals a global web of corruption and tax avoidance. But Vox's German Lopez uncovered a great explanation of what's happening, and it's courtesy of brilliant redditor DanGliesack.

He uses piggy banks to help explain the main (and complicated-sounding) thing that was happening in Panama: foreigners setting up Panamanian shell companies to hold financial assets that obscure the identities of their real owners. We thought this analogy was quite fitting for a comic, so we created these illustrations to explain the key issue at the heart of the Panama Papers scandal.


Let's say you save your quarters in a piggy bank that is on your closet shelf.

But your mom keeps checking up on how much you're putting in and taking out.

You don't like that.

So you get an extra piggy bank...

...and take it to Johnny's house.

Johnny's mom is busy. She doesn't check piggy banks. So you can secretly keep yours there without anyone checking up on it.

The neighborhood kids also think this is a good idea.

So they also put their piggy banks in Johnny's closet.

But one day, Johnny's mom finds the piggy banks.

She's mad and calls everyone's parents to tell on the kids hiding their money.

That's basically today's document leak — and a lot of important and powerful people hid their piggy banks at Johnny's house in Panama.

Not everyone was doing something bad, though. For example, you just wanted privacy from your mom.

But your neighbor Michael was stealing money from his mom's purse and hiding it in Johnny's closet. And Jacob was stealing other people's lunch money and didn't want his parents to ask where it came from.

Soon we'll know who was doing this for bad reasons and who wasn't.

But everyone who hid their piggy bank at Johnny's house is still in trouble, because secret piggy banks are not allowed.

So journalists are now scouring the records to better understand what type of activity was going on at Johnny's house in Panama — whether it was legal, appropriate, or a bending of the law. To read more of Vox's coverage of the Panama Papers, go here.