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Microsoft’s Calibri Font At Center Of Political Scandal

A word of advice: Don’t try forging documents from 2006 with a font released in 2007.

Microsoft’s Calibri Font At Center Of Political Scandal

Calibri has been Microsoft’s default font since 2007. That means Calibri is likely what you used for your last PowerPoint presentation, or Excel doc, without giving it a second thought.

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But you are not allegedly forging old documents to absolve Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif–and his family–from illegally profiting off his government position. Because if you were, you probably should have changed the font to a classic like Arial, or Times New Roman to avoid what Twitter had dubbed #Fontgate.

Sharif’s potential political corruption was spotlighted in the 2016 leak, The Panama Papers. These 11.5 million documents from the Panama law firm Mossack Fonseca revealed that some of Sharif’s children were listed as beneficiaries for previously undisclosed offshore companies–companies that had real estate holdings in London. While not technically illegal, Sharif was accused of tax sheltering, money laundering, and acquiring such wealth through unethical means, given his political position.

In an effort to clear her family name, Sharif’s daughter, Mariam Safdar, released documents that claimed she was not a beneficiary of these companies, but merely a trustee. The problem? As forensic handwriting and document examiner Robert W. Radley pointed out, Safder’s documents were dated to 2006. But the Calibri font they were typed in would not be widely released until 2007.

The Panamagate Joint Investigation Team (JIT) has since accused Safdar of presenting fake documents, as the investigation into Sharif’s corruption continues. But it’s hard to believe that a major government corruption case may have been blown open by the simple use of a font.

After all, all of the documents we create have their own carbon-dated stamp of the fonts and software tools we’ve used to create them. As for Calibri, its stature as Microsoft’s default font means that it’s currently involved with another major government corruption investigation: Calibri was also the font of choice for Donald Trump Jr.’s emails.

About the author

Mark Wilson is a senior writer at Fast Company. He started Philanthroper.com, a simple way to give back every day.

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