International Consortium of Investigative Journalists

The World’s Best Cross-Border Investigative Team

ICIJ Releases 'Offshore Leaks' Database To Public

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USERS CAN SEARCH THROUGH MORE THAN 100,000 SECRET ENTITIES ACROSS 10 OFFSHORE JURISDICTIONS  

WASHINGTON, DC (June 14)The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), a project of the Center for Public Integrity, today releases an interactive database that cracks open the historically impenetrable world of offshore tax havens.  

The ICIJ Offshore Leaks Database allows users to search through more than 100,000 secret companies, trusts and funds created in offshore locales such as the British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Cook Islands and Singapore. 

“Secrecy creates an environment where fraud, tax evasion, money laundering and other forms of corruption thrive. The Offshore Leaks Database helps remove this secrecy,” said ICIJ director Gerard Ryle. “Opening up the records serves the public interest by bringing accountability to an industry that has long operated in the shadows.”

Tax evasion is a central theme in the meetings British Prime Minister David Cameron will chair next week with the leaders of the G8 industrialized countries. Cameron says the time has come “to knock down the walls of company secrecy” that make the offshore system attractive to money launderers, fraudsters and other criminals. In the U.S., anticorruption advocates are urging President Obama to support proposals that would require owners of shell companies in the U.S. and other countries to publicly register their holdings.

The data are part of a cache of 2.5 million leaked files ICIJ analyzed with 112 journalists in 58 countries. Since April, stories based on the data — the largest stockpile of inside information about the offshore system ever obtained by a media organization — have been published by more than 40 media organizations worldwide, including The Guardian in the U.K., Le Monde in France, Süddeutsche Zeitung and Norddeutscher Rundfunk in Germany, The Washington Post and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC).

The Offshore Leaks web app was developed by La Nación newspaper in Costa Rica for ICIJ. It will go live at 10:00 pm EST on Friday June 14 (4:01 CEST Saturday June 15.)

ICIJ’s investigation — dubbed “Offshore Leaks” by the Twittersphere and the public — has shaken political and financial institutions from South Korea to Canada.  The ICIJ team’s news reports have:

• Triggered official investigations into tax dodging and other possible crimes in the Philippines, India, Greece and South Korea.

• Prompted high-profile resignations of political and business leaders, including the deputy speaker of the Mongolian parliament and Austria’s most famed banker.

• Sparked a renewed sense of urgency among world leaders, transforming tax-haven politics in the European Union and amplifying political will to tackle offshore tax evasion. 

The Offshore Leaks web app allows readers to explore the relationships between clients, offshore entities and the lawyers, accountants, banks and other intermediaries who help keep these arrangements secret. The web app displays graphic visualizations of offshore entities and the networks around them including, when possible, the company’s true owners.

There are legitimate uses for offshore companies and trusts and ICIJ does not suggest or imply that the people and companies included in the database have broken the law or otherwise acted improperly. 

The Offshore Leaks Database also is not a “data dump.” Rather, it is a careful release of basic corporate information. ICIJ will not release personal data en masse, and has intentionally withheld records of bank accounts and financial transactions, emails and other correspondence, passports and telephone numbers.

After 17 months of reporting, ICIJ reporters and partners are still digging into this massive trove of financial information. The Offshore Leaks Database gives ICIJ an opportunity to reach journalists and regular citizens in every corner of the world, particularly in countries most affected by corruption and backroom deals. ICIJ believes many of the best stories may come from crowd sourcing, when readers explore the database.

As it fields tips from the public, ICIJ will continue to work on in-depth, cross-border investigations with its network of reporters and media partners. At the same time, ICIJ will continue to reject demands from governments that it turn over all its offshore files. ICIJ is an independent network of investigative reporters — not an arm of government.


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About the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ)

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists is an active global network of 160 reporters in more than 60 countries who collaborate on in-depth investigative stories.  Founded in 1997, ICIJ was launched as a project of the Center for Public Integrity to extend the Center’s style of watchdog journalism, focusing on issues that do not stop at national frontiers: cross-border crime, corruption, and the accountability of power. Backed by the Center and its computer-assisted reporting specialists, public records experts, fact-checkers and lawyers, ICIJ reporters and editors provide real-time resources and state-of-the-art tools and techniques to journalists around the world.

About the Center for Public Integrity

Founded in 1989 by Charles Lewis, the Center for Public Integrity is one of the country's oldest and largest nonpartisan, nonprofit investigative news organizations.  Our mission: to enhance democracy by revealing abuses of power, corruption and betrayal of trust by powerful public and private institutions, using the tools of investigative journalism.


MEDIA CONTACTS:

ICIJ Media Relations
Washington, DC
mediarelations@icij.org
Office: 1 + (202) 481-1232 

Jim Popkin, Seven Oaks Media Group
Washington, DC
jim.popkin@sevenoaksmedia.com
Office: 1 + (202) 253-7959                               

Advisory Committee

Bill Kovach, United States, former curator of the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University and an American newspaperman for 30 years, is the North American representative and chair of the ICIJ Advisory Committee.

Kovach has been a journalist and writer for 40 years, including 18 years as a reporter and editor for The New York Times. As an editor, Kovach supervised reporting projects that won four Pulitzer Prizes, including two during his two-year tenure as editor of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the first Pulitzers awarded to that paper in 20 years.

Kovach was a 1988-89 Nieman fellow at Harvard University and remained as curator of the Nieman Foundation journalism fellowship program until 2000.

Among his many other awards are the Sigma Delta Chi Award for contributions to journalism research in 2000, the National Mental Health Award in 1968, the New York State Bar Association Award in 1968, the AEJMC Professional Freedom and Responsibility Award in 1992, the Sigma Delta Chi First Amendment Award in 1996, the Goldsmith Career Award for Excellence in Journalism in 2000, and the Elijah Parish Lovejoy Award, which was accompanied by an honorary doctorate from Colby College.

Kovach served on Pulitzer juries from 1987-1990 and is a board member of the Committee to Protect Journalists.

He is co-author of Warp Speed: America in the Age of Mixed Media, The Elements of Journalism: What Newspeople Should Know and the Public Should Expect, and Blur: How to Know What's True in the Age of Information Overload.

Kovach is a long-time advisory board member of the Center for Public Integrity.

Charles Lewis, United States, is a tenured professor of journalism and founding executive editor of the Investigative Reporting Workshop at American University in Washington, D.C.

He has been a national investigative journalist for more than 30 years, and is the founder of the Center for Public Integrity and its International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. Lewis left a successful career as a producer for ABC News and the CBS News program 60 Minutes and began the Center, which under his 15-year leadership published roughly 300 investigative reports, including 14 books, its work honored more than 30 times by national journalism organizations.

He is the co-author of five Center books, including the bestseller, The Buying of the President 2004, and author of 935 Lies: The Future of Truth and the Decline of America's Moral Integrity (June 2014). He was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship in 1998 and the PEN USA First Amendment award in 2004.

Lewis co-founded the Fund for Independence in Journalism in 2003, which he led as its president for five years, and Global Integrity in 2005.

He has been a Ferris Professor at Princeton University and a Shorenstein Fellow at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

Rosental Calmon Alves, United States/Brazil, is a journalism professor at the University of Texas at Austin, where he holds the first John S. & James L. Knight Chair in International Journalism. For a decade, Alves worked as a foreign correspondent for Brazil’s daily newspaper, Jornal do Brasil, reporting from Spain, Argentina, Mexico, and the United States. He taught journalism at two Rio de Janeiro universities and in 1987-88 became the first Brazilian to be selected as a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University. As a correspondent and editor, he has participated in or directed several investigative reporting projects. Alves is the Latin American representative on the Advisory Committee.

Gwen Lister, Namibia, founded The Namibian in 1985 during apartheid colonialism in the country. The newspaper and staff were consistently targeted by right-wing elements and security forces because of the perception that the newspaper supported the liberation movement. Lister was jailed twice, in 1984 under the Official Secrets Act, and in June 1988, when she was detained without trial and denied access to a lawyer. Authorities jailed her the second time in an attempt to force her to reveal the source of a secret document she had published, which proposed sweeping new powers for the police. She was four months pregnant at the time. Attacks on the newspaper and harassment of its staff culminated in an arson attack that destroyed the offices of The Namibian in October 1988.

After independence in 1990, the newspaper was again targeted by right-wing elements after a front-page report about a possible coup attempt against the new government. The editorial offices were damaged in a phosphorous grenade firebombing. In these and other bombings, The Namibian never missed an edition.

The role of The Namibian in pre-independence Namibia has been honored by a number of international awards. In 2000, Lister was named one of 50 World Press Freedom Heroes of the last half century by the International Press Institute. In 1992, she was awarded a Committee to Protect Journalists’ International Press Freedom Award and the Press Freedom Award of the Media Institute of South Africa.

In October 2011, after 26 years at the helm of The Namibian Lister handed over the reins to Tangeni Amupadhi. At the same time she formalized the non-profit Namibia Media Trust which owns the newpaper, and appointed other Trustees. Lister is Executive Director of The Free Press of Namibia (Pty) Ltd and Chairs the Trust - in terms of which the profits of The Namibian are ploughed back into promotion of free and independent press, excellence and training in journalism in the wider media community.

Lister was a 1996 Nieman fellow at Harvard.

Goenawan Mohamad, Indonesia, is founder and editor of Tempo magazine, Indonesia's most-respected newsmagazine. It was banned by the Suharto government in 1994 after publishing details of the government’s purchase of aging East German destroyers, a confidential subject of dispute among Suharto’s cabinet members. In 1995, Mohamad founded the Institute for the Studies on Free Flow of Information (ISAI) which produced alternative media intended to circumvent censorship. Mohamad later formed the Alliance of Independent Journalists, the only independent journalism organization in Indonesia. Following Suharto’s resignation in May 1998, Mohamad led a group of reporters in restarting Tempo online and in print. Mohamad was a 1990 Nieman fellow at Harvard University and in 1997 received the Nieman fellows’ Louis Lyons Award for Conscience and Integrity in Journalism. In 1998, he was awarded the Committee to Protect Journalists’ International Press Freedom Award. Mohamad is a visiting history professor at the University of California at Berkeley this year, where he will teach courses in Indonesian and Southeast Asian culture. Mohamad is the Asian representative on the Advisory Committee.

Reginald Chua is Editor, Data and Innovation at Thomson Reuters, based in New York. From July 2009 to March 2011, he was Editor-in-Chief of the South China Morning Post, responsible for the editorial operations of the Hong Kong-based news media company. Prior to that, he had a 16-year run at The Wall Street Journal, including as a Deputy Managing Editor in New York, where he managed the global newsroom budget, supervised the graphics team, and helped develop the paper’s computer-assisted reporting capabilities. He began a 16-year career at the Journal as a correspondent in Manila, opened the paper’s bureau in Hanoi, became the longest-serving editor of the Journal’s Hong Kong-based Asian edition, then moved to New York, where his initial duties were to manage the paper’s global newsroom budget and administration. During his eight-year tenure as editor of the Asian Journal, the paper won numerous Society of Publishers in Asia awards for editorial excellence; staff at the paper also won a Pulitzer Prize and an Overseas Press Club of America award. He also covered the Philippines for the Straits Times, worked at Reuters in Singapore, and was a television and radio journalist at the then-Singapore Broadcasting Corp. A native of Singapore, Reginald graduated with a Master’s in Journalism from Columbia University and a Bachelor’s in Mathematics from the University of Chicago.

Brant Houston, United States, is a journalism professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he holds the John S. & James L. Knight Chair in Investigative Reporting. Houston served for more than 10 years as executive director of Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE), a nonprofit organization of more than 4,000 members, and as a professor at the University of Missouri School of Journalism. He co-founded the Global Investigative Journalism Network in 2003 and is chair of the recently formed Investigative News Network. Before joining IRE, Houston was an award-winning investigative reporter for 17 years at metropolitan papers in the United States. He is author of Computer-Assisted Reporting: A Practical Guide and co-author of The Investigative Reporter’s Handbook. He has taught investigative reporting and computer-assisted reporting in more than a dozen countries.

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