When the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists published its first major stories on financial secrecy in April 2013, we allowed the public to see the way the financial system really works – and who it serves.
Much has happened since then.
The leaders of Pakistan and Iceland have fallen, multiple people have been arrested, and hundreds of millions of badly needed dollars for schools, hospitals and infrastructure projects have been recovered by tax offices around the world – all as a direct result of our revelations.
Laws have been changed, from the United States to New Zealand to Europe, and billions of dollars in market value were wiped away from hundreds of public-traded companies we named – a strong message from the corporate world that some of the behavior we revealed is no longer acceptable.
The Paradise Papers is the sixth such investigation of the offshore world undertaken by ICIJ. Our first project, Secrecy for Sale, was followed by ChinaLeaks, LuxLeaks, SwissLeaks and, in 2016, the Panama Papers.
Each project, in turn, has generally involved more documents, more journalists and bigger revelations.
And each, in turn, has prompted new levels of outrage, provoked more public discussions and helped build momentum behind a push for a fairer, more transparent society.
But for each incremental step forward, more examples of inequality and injustice also come forth, pointing out systemic failure. It’s the disavowed, the vulnerable and the disadvantaged who suffer the consequences.
Our work is not yet done. We believe that journalism has an important role to play in righting the system.
Our expertise, our global network and our access to data sets that exist nowhere else make us uniquely qualified to find information that is hidden from the public. To borrow a famous phrase from the Watergate scandal, we are able to follow the money in ways that others are not.
Our specially developed technology is used to interrogate and distribute information, connect journalists together in an online newsroom and ensure that the journalists work as one global team.
Together, we achieve results and impact that no outlet could achieve independently.
We also work in difficult environments and thereby provide help for journalists publishing stories in repressive or dangerous regimes. People are likely to turn to us to get out information they may not be able to release through their national media.
Over the past five years, we have also worked hard to position ourselves as one of the most important whistleblower outlets in the world.
ICIJ is able to report stories like the Paradise Papers because of philanthropy. We are a non-profit newsroom that relies on financial contributions from readers and friends – some as little as $1, some more substantial amounts from generous individual donors – and on the generosity of philanthropic foundations.
More than just financial assistance, it’s the support of readers and reporters around the world that really drives us: we want to create a community around the journalism we do. Our mission is to uncover corruption and injustice and, in doing so, make the world a more fair and transparent place. We can’t do it alone.
So please, get involved. Share our work. Reach out to us with information. Help us continue our reporting, and help us right the system.