Netflix to make a film based on the Panama Papers data leak scandal

Streaming giant snaps up the rights to a book written by the only two journalists who dealt with the anonymous source of the data which caused a global scandal


Netflix is making a film about the Panama Papers data leak and the resulting tax avoidance scandal that rocked the world.


The as-yet-unnamed film will be written by Frederik Obermaier and Bastian Obermayer, two German journalists at the centre of the hugely controversial leak of millions of financial documents that lifted the lid on the scale of tax avoidance by the world’s wealthy earlier this year.

The on-demand service has acquired exclusive rights to the duo’s book The Panama Papers: Breaking the Story of How the World’s Rich and Powerful Hide Their Money.

The Munich-based duo, who write for the Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper, dealt directly with an anonymous source known as John Doe who leaked the 11.5m documents from the Panama-based company Mossack Fonseca, unveiling a web of financial intrigue that is still being felt today.  

The work, released in collaboration with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), revealed how many of the super rich utilised complex accounting systems to avoid tax.

It set off an international firestorm, triggering the resignation of heads of state, judicial investigations in more than a dozen countries and a global debate on just how easy it has become for the wealthy to avoid taxes and effectively game the system.

It even drew in former Prime Minister David Cameron after he was forced to admit that he benefited from a Panama-based offshore trust set up by his late father.

Details of the director and cast are yet to be announced, but Netflix has confirmed that the film will be overseen by John Wells Productions, run by the eponymous director of Burnt which starred Bradley Cooper as a volatile chef.


“We are confident that between the expert investigative work of Obermaier and Obermayer, the only journalists in touch directly with John Doe, the ICIJ, and the master storytelling of John Wells Productions, we will be able to deliver a gripping tale that will deliver the same type of impact as the Panama Papers when they were first revealed on the world’s front pages,” said Ted Sarandos, Chief Content Officer of Netflix.