"The facts described in national and international communication media publications under the term 'Panama Papers' will be the subject of criminal investigation," the office said in a statement yesterday.

The probe will aim to establish what crimes might have taken place and who committed them, as well as identifying possible financial damages, it said.

The law firm involved, Mossack Fonseca, says the leak of 11.5 million documents from its servers was the result of a 'limited hack,' suggesting it believed an outside party was responsible.

One of its founders, Ramon Fonseca, told media the leak was an attack on Panama itself, which is dependent on its financial services sector.

Panama's president, Juan Carlos Varela, said his country would cooperate with "whatever government and whatever investigation" resulted from the scandal.

Offshore entities, of themselves, are not illegal. But they can be used to launder money or hide assets from tax authorities in other countries.

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