The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) has won a prestigious Polk Award for its multi-year reporting project “Offshore Leaks” examining tax havens and new ways that wealthy companies avoid taxes around the world. The project was comprised of 120 journalists from 58 countries and 42 news organizations. ICIJ was founded in 1997 by Charles Lewis as part of the Center for Public Integrity.
The award, announced Sunday evening, is the second for the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. The Polk Awards, given by Long Island University, recognize journalism that “places a premium on investigative and enterprise work that is original, requires digging and resourcefulness, and brings results.” ICIJ’s citation is for business reporting.
“Offshore Leaks” was a three-year investigation focused on tax avoidance practices by companies in the United States, China and the European Union, including some of the most well-known brands like Pepsi, Disney and FedEx. It also revealed the inner workings of the tiny Grand Duchy of Luxembourg and its role in reducing tax bills, how China’s elite hid their own enormous fortunes offshore, and how New York real estate is “just another island haven” for funneling weath. The judges praised the work as it “documented tax dodges at the expense of national treasuries and average taxpayers.”
“The Consortium under the leadership of Gerard Ryle has developed powerful story-telling skills across a global network of committed members,” said Peter Bale, CEO of the Center for Public Integrity. “The Consortium has broken an unrivaled series of stories which go to the heart of the debate about inequality, from Offshore Leaks to the scoop on the epic scale of tax avoidance and wrongdoing known as Swiss Leaks. We are grateful that the Polk Award recognizes the importance of collaborative investigative reporting on this scale.”
The “Offshore Leaks” series includes:
- Exposing global companies’ secret tax deals in the tiny grand Duchy of Luxembourg
New York Real Estate’s lax regulations and no-questions-asked approach make it easy to funnel wealth through high-end Manhattan apartments
A look at nearly 22,000 tax haven clients from Hong Kong and Mainland China, including the country’s top leaders who have held secretive offshore companies in tax havens