International Consortium of Investigative Journalists

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AbbreviationICIJ

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) is an independent Washington D.C.-based international network. Launched in 1997 by the Center for Public Integrity,[1] ICIJ was spun off in February 2017 into a fully independent organisation which includes more than 200 investigative journalists in over 70 countries[2] who work together on "issues such as "cross-border crime, corruption, and the accountability of power."[3][4] The ICIJ has exposed smuggling and tax evasion by multinational tobacco companies (2000),[5] "by organised crime syndicates; investigated private military cartels, asbestos companies,[6] and climate change lobbyists; and broke new ground by publicising details of Iraq and Afghanistan war contracts."[3][3][4][7]

The ICIJ's most recent investigation is the Paradise Papers, a cross-border, global investigation[8] that reveals the offshore activities of some of the world's most powerful people and companies.[9] The project involved 95 media partners and was based on 13.4 million leaked files.

For the Panama Papers more than 80 journalists worked on the data, culminating in a partial release on 3 April 2016, garnering global media attention.[10][11] The set of 11.5 million confidential financial and legal document from the Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca included detailed information on more than 14,000 clients and more than 214,000 offshore entities, including the identities of shareholders and directors including noted personalities and heads of state[12]—government officials, close relatives and close associates of various heads of government of more than 40 other countries.[13][14][15] The German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung first received the released data from an anonymous source in 2015.[14]

History

In 1997, the Center for Public Integrity began "assembling the world’s first working network of premier investigative reporters." By 2000 the ICIJ consisted of 75 world-class investigative reporters in 39 countries."[16]

In February 2017, ICIJ was spun off into a fully independent organisation, which is now governed by three committees: a traditional board of directors with a fiduciary role; an Advisory Committee made of supporters; and an ICIJ Network Committee.[2]

ICIJ was granted nonprofit status from US tax authorities in July the same year.[2]

Global tobacco industry

From 2008 to 2011, the ICIJ investigated the global tobacco industry revealing how Philip Morris International and other tobacco companies worked to grow businesses in Russia, Mexico, Uruguay and Indonesia.[17]

Offshore banking series

The ICIJ partnered with The Guardian, BBC, Le Monde, the Washington Post, SonntagsZeitung, The Indian Express, Süddeutsche Zeitung and NDR to produce an investigative series on offshore banking.[18][19] They reported on government corruption across the globe, tax avoidance schemes used by wealthy people and the use of secret offshore accounts in Ponzi Schemes.[20]

In June 2011, an ICIJ article revealed how an Australian businessman had helped his clients legally incorporate thousands of offshore shell entitles "some of which later became involved in the international movement of oil, guns and money."[21]

In early 2014, the ICIJ revealed that relatives of China's political and financial elite were among those using offshore tax havens to conceal wealth.[22]

Panama Papers

The Süddeutsche Zeitung received a leaked set of 11.5 million confidential documents from a secret source, created by the Panamanian corporate service provider Mossack Fonseca.[23] The so-called Panama Papers provided detailed information on more than 214,000 offshore companies, including the identities of shareholders and directors which included government officials, close relatives and close associates of various heads of government of more than 40 other countries.[14][15] Because of the leak the prime minister of Iceland, Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson, was forced to resign on 5 April 2016. [11] By 4 April 2016 more than "107 media organisations in 76 countries"[24] had participated in analyzing the documents,[25] including BBC Panorama and the UK newspaper, The Guardian.[24] Based on the Panama Paper disclosure, Pakistan Supreme Court constituted the Joint Investigation Team to probe the matter and disqualified the Prime Minister Nawas Sharif on July 28, 2017 to hold any public office for life.

The ICIJ and Süddeutsche Zeitung received the Panama Papers in 2015 and distributed them to about 400 journalists at 107 media organisations[24] in more than 80 countries. The first news reports based on the set, along with 149 of the documents themselves,[23][26][27]

According to The New York Times,[11]

"[T]he Panama Papers reveal an industry that flourishes in the gaps and holes of international finance. They make clear that policing offshore banking and tax havens and the rogues who use them cannot be done by any one country alone. Lost tax revenue is one consequence of this hidden system; even more dangerous is its deep damage to democratic rule and regional stability when corrupt politicians have a place to stash stolen national assets out of public view."

Paradise Papers

In 2017, the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung obtained a "cache" of "13.4 million leaked files"[9][28] regarding tax havens, known as the Paradise Papers, related to the Bermuda-based offshore specialist Appleby, "one of the world’s largest offshore law firms." The files were shared them with the ICIJ and eventually 95 media outlets."[28] They revealed that many of the tax havens used by Appleby are in the Cayman Islands, which is a British territory that "levies no corporate or personal income tax on money earned outside its jurisdiction."[28][28][29] The Paradise Papers revealed the "offshore activities of some of the world's most powerful people and companies".[9]

Outreach

The ICIJ is active on social media with a website, a blog entitled the 'Global Muckraker',[30] Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and a YouTube channel.[3]

Awards

The ICIJ organised the bi-annual Daniel Pearl Awards for Outstanding International Investigative Reporting. The award is currently not being awarded.[2][31][32][33][34][35][33]

 

A document sourced from International Consortium of Investigative Journalists

TitleTypeSubject(s)Publication dateAuthor(s)Description
Document:Appleby launches legal action against ICIJ’s UK partnersArticleBBC
The Guardian
Panama Papers
Paradise Papers
Appleby
18 December 2017Gerard Ryle"This is a potentially dangerous moment for free expression in Britain" – Gerard Ryle


References

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