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Swiss Leaks frequently asked questions answered

Will ICIJ release all the data? Does ICIJ plan to give the list to governments? Your questions answered, and more.

Swiss Leaks

Why didn’t ICIJ publish all the Swiss Leaks files? 

We are an investigative journalism organization and, as such, we report stories that are in the public interest. The Swiss Leaks files expose significant systemic failures inside the one of the world’s largest banks, HSBC. The records also show how some clients, sometimes aided by bank officers, sought to avoid and evade taxes in their home countries. Those stories and others we are pursuing serve the public interest by bringing accountability to an industry –the offshore industry –that has long operated in the shadows. 

Other parts of the data are of a private nature and of no interest to the public. 

ICIJ will not release personal data en masse but will continue to mine the full data with its media partners. 

Will ICIJ share the Swiss Leaks files with governments? 

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.

Should I assume that everyone that appears in the Swiss Leaks files is involved in tax avoidance or evasion?

No. There are legitimate reasons to use Swiss bank accounts and many people declare them to their tax authorities when that is required.  

How can I join the investigation? 

Once we have finished publishing a planned series of stories with our partners 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. We are vetting the requests and plan to pick a few new partners in the coming weeks. 

As our data editor Mar Cabra has said, 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. ICIJ’s data unit provided training to our partners to make sure that everyone understood the intricacies of the information they were reporting on. 

If you are a journalist and want to partner with us send us an email to  

How does ICIJ pick its reporting partners? 

ICIJ is an independent network of 185 investigative journalists in more than 65 countries who work together of issues of global significance. Sometimes we go to our members with an idea for a project and sometimes our members come to us with their own ideas or data. In Swiss Leaks ICIJ member Serge Michel convinced reporters and editors at his newspaper, Le Monde, to share the files they had obtained with ICIJ so we could in turn organize the global investigation. 

We sometimes work with journalists and media organizations that are not part of our network, for example in countries where we haven’t done work before. We vet those new partners thoroughly. What do we seek in our partners? 1) Journalists with a proven record in investigative reporting 2) Media organizations that support “slow,” deep-dive investigations 3) Journalists who are team players and are willing to share their work with other colleagues around the world 4) Generally nice people (life is short!).  

How do I get in touch with ICIJ if I want to share a tip or documents? 

There are a number of ways to contact ICIJ, depending on the nature of your message or the material you would like to share.

ICIJ will soon deploy a new system that will allow whistleblowers to leak confidential information to ICIJ securely without revealing their identity. ICIJ also uses PGP encryption: our public key can be found on the MIT PGP Public Key Server (key ID: 2A17696B); our email address is

Who funds ICIJ? 

ICIJ is a non-profit organization. We rely heavily on charitable foundations and on financial support from the public. Without your help, we cannot exist.

Recent ICIJ funders include: Adessium Foundation, Open Society Foundations, The Sigrid Rausing Trust, The Ford Foundation, Pew Charitable Trusts and Waterloo Foundation. We also recently received support from Australian philanthropist Graeme Wood.

We welcome individual donations in support of our work. You can make a gift online here

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ICIJ is dedicated to ensuring all reports we publish are accurate. If you believe you have found an inaccuracy let us know.