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FinCEN Files wins investigation of the year in Argentina

In the first major global award for the investigation, judges highlighted the “rigorous cross-border work” done by the Argentinian team.

The FinCEN Files has won Argentina’s top investigative journalism prize for 2020.

Journalists from La Nación, Infobae and Perfil were honored with the Top Investigative Journalism FOPEA 2020 Award from the Argentine Journalism Forum (Foro de Periodismo Argentino) for revealing suspicious money flows to and from the country linked to politicians, soccer players and businesspeople. 

The Argentinian team, which included Hugo Alconada Mon, Ricardo Brom, Sandra Crucianelli, Emilia Delfino, Mariel Fitz Patrick, Maia Jastreblansky and Iván Ruiz, published more than a dozen stories as part of the FinCEN Files investigation.

The prize comes less than two months after the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, BuzzFeed News, and 108 global news organizations published the FinCEN Files, an investigation based on thousands of secret bank documents that revealed the details behind more than $2 trillion in suspicious transactions flowing around the world.

This is the first major global award the FinCEN Files has received. The investigation involved more than 400 journalists in 88 countries.

In Argentina, the FinCEN Files revealed money flows involving unknown origins and tax havens that were flagged by banks in suspicious activity reports filed with the United States Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, or FinCEN.

The files showed that Argentine soccer star Javier Mascherano’s British Virgin Islands-registered company Alenda Investments Ltd. was linked to more than $1 million in transactions that raised suspicions of possible tax evasion, according to ICIJ’s partners at Infobae, La Nación and Perfil

ICIJ’s media partners in Argentina also revealed ties between lawyer Néstor Marcelo Ramos and controversial Venezuelan businessman Alejandro Ceballos Jiménez. Ceballos secretly routed millions of dollars from public housing contracts including offshore companies and bank accounts belonging to family members, according to Armando.info, ICIJ and media partners based on the FinCEN Files documents. 

The Argentinian team worked closely with colleagues in Spain, Switzerland, Uruguay, the United States and Venezuela.

Award judges Diana Baccaro, Ítalo Pisani and Giannina Segnini highlighted the “complex, sensible, collaborative, rigorous and cross-border work done by the Argentinian team.” They also recognized the whole investigative process done by the reporters that went beyond the leak. The work “reveals the impact maneuvers of fortunes of people close to power has in Argentina, as well as fortunes of businessmen and soccer players, which is a good description of the local kleptocracy,” they said.

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