A story of thuggery, corruption and international money laundering is told through data from three smartphones owned by the former vice president of the Maldives.

It features secretly filmed interviews with men who carried bags of cash for the president and his associates.

The investigation uncovers the embezzlement of around $80m made from the lease of the Maldives’ tropical islands, and chronicles how the money was then used to bribe the political elite of the island state.

The investigation spans three countries and, with emails, text messages and exclusives documents, also uncovers a plot to launder $1.5 billion. It is so much cash that it would have be stacked on more than a dozen palettes.