The global impact of our latest international investigation has been astonishing:
- In South Korea, police and prosecutors raided the home of a former President, hauling away paintings and other big-ticket items;
- In Austria, one of Europe’s most famed bankers abruptly resigned;
- And, in Great Britain and France, national leaders have appeared on TV and promised to eradicate tax havens.
These far-flung events and many others can be traced directly to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists’ groundbreaking probe into the secrets of offshore tax havens. ICIJ’s so-called “Offshore Leaks” project has sparked a sea change in international tax policies. So far, official investigations and inquiries have been launched in Israel, South Korea, the Philippines, Greece, Canada, India, Mongolia, Austria and Australia.
In Europe, the EU’s top tax official credits ICIJ with transforming tax politics, calling it “the most significant trigger” behind the region’s newfound resolve to crack down on offshore hideaways and global tax evasion. In Belgium, the secretary of state says “Offshore Leaks woke up many Belgians” and other Europeans as well. “We're in a completely different context today,” he says. “It’s a new world.”
In effect, ICIJ has helped change the atmosphere around offshore tax havens through transparency. ICIJ is a 15-year-old consortium of 160 investigative journalists in 60 countries. It operates as part of the Center for Public Integrity in Washington.
More than a year and a half in the making, the Offshore Leaks project is, I believe, the largest cross-border investigative reporting collaboration in history. The investigation has been cited more than 20,000 times by other media organizations around the world. And there is more to come.
Putting together a project with the depth and breadth of Offshore Leaks – and reporting across languages, time zones and cultures – is a massive logistical challenge. Team members are stretched across the globe, some with spotty Internet access and serious security concerns. Many work in countries where they have legitimate fear of retaliation from powerful figures in government or business.
Only an investigative powerhouse such as ICIJ could do this level of work and stand up to the pressures that it has produced. ICIJ is given credit for helping force significant changes in international policies aimed at fighting tax evasion.
The Center for Public Integrity is currently seeking support for ICIJ that will allow us to continue this crucial work probing hidden tax havens in many more countries. Individual contributions will be matched by a member of our Board of Directors. If you can help us, please do, so we can continue to change the world of hidden offshore tax havens.
Thank you. Until next week,