Why we are not turning over the offshore files to government agencies

Update: In June we published the Offshore Leaks Database, containing a selection of the offshore entity ownership data. We will continue to add more information to the database as we continue to report. 

One of the many reactions from our series on offshore tax havens has been government agencies from Germany, Greece, South Korea, Canada and the U.S. asking for access to the 2.5 million files that form the basis of our reporting.

We are declining to do so.

ICIJ

The long-standing policy of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, and our parent organization, the Center for Public Integrity, is not to turn over such material.

The ICIJ is not an arm of law enforcement and is not an agent of the government. We are an independent reporting organization, served by and serving our members, the global investigative journalism community and the public.

Once we have finished publishing a planned series of stories over a two-week period, our attention will turn to countries where we still have investigative work to do. A number of other media organizations have reached out to us offering help and support, and we welcome these new offers of collaboration.

If there are more stories to find, we want to find them – together.

As our data journalism manager and ICIJ member Duncan Campbell in the UK points out this is not easy data to understand. It took great commitment from all of our current media partners to find stories of important public interest. They should all be applauded.

Our intention is to continue reporting in this way throughout 2013, and perhaps into 2014. Part of our time will be spent following up on the many tip-offs that we have received from the public.

Please keep them coming. Information is the lifeblood of investigative reporting.

Many people have asked us if we will release the raw data in full. What we can say is that ICIJ is looking at the possibility of releasing some entity ownership data, but there are many legal, journalistic, and technical issues to work through before we can do that.

In the meantime we will continue to release documents linked throughout the stories, as we have been doing since the first report.

Gerard Ryle is the ICIJ director. 

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