The government of Denmark has sanctioned the purchase of roughly 200,000 leaked Panama Papers documents, paying a massive DKK9m (£1m, $1.3m) for information it will now use to probe whether hundreds of Danes are guilty of tax evasion.
The nation's tax minister, Karsten Lauritzen, has disclosed that an "anonymous source" approached the government over the summer and confirmed the purchased data – which has been verified as genuine by experts – related to Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca.
According to reports, the source, whose true identity remains a mystery, sent a sample of the documents for review before summer. After the verification process had taken place the government then negotiated the landmark deal with parties in the country's parliament.
Speaking to the Associated Press (AP), Lauritzen said that "everything suggests it is useful information" and that "we owe it to all Danish taxpayers who faithfully pay their taxes." He added that numerous parties supported the purchase and that "the material contains relevant and valid information about several hundred Danish taxpayers".
The Panama Papers leak is considered the largest disclosure of financial information in history – consisting of a massive 11.5 million documents in total. Exposed by an anonymous figure who has called himself/herself "John Doe", it implicated a number of high-profile government officials and celebrities in alleged tax avoidance practices.
At the time of writing, it remains unknown if "John Doe" is the same figure that approached the government of Denmark. Officials have maintained they do not know the true identity of the source and said they only communicate via encrypted channels.
Jim Sorensen, a division head at the Danish Tax Authority, told Politiken newspaper: "The source sent us a 'sample', which we could [...] study over the summer holidays. This convinced us of the quality of the documents. They are real and they contain information that is very relevant to us.
"This [data] can give us a breakthrough in the investigation of tax havens. It is the source, who has selected and sorted. We have the impression that the source has extremely good insight into everything the press writes in Denmark, and is very well informed about what is going on."
Meanwhile, Dennis Flydtkjær, an MP with the Danish People's party, said: "We see [the purchase] in the light of the crisis tax is in right now. This is a golden opportunity to show that we are actually going after people who cheat. Therefore, in this case we are prepared to bend our principles."
As noted by The Guardian, this is not the first time that Denmark has paid for information of this nature. In 2014, tax investigators paid roughly €1m (£841,000) for files from a separate Mossack Fonseca leak – largely revolving around alleged tax evaders using the country's Commerzbank.
Now, as the Danish probe is launched, it remains to be seen if the purchase of such tailored Panama Papers data will push other countries or governments into taking the same approach to locating – and apprehending – those involved with avoiding tax payments.