Journalism plays a crucial role in informing citizens and dissecting social issues. Many societal abuses transcend national boundaries, making it important that investigative journalists can engage in cross-border collaboration. The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), founded in 1997 by the Center for Public Integrity, represents a successful approach to journalistic collaboration. It is a global network of more than 190 investigative journalists working together in 65 countries.
Recent examples of in-depth investigative reports include Lux Leaks (publications on the favorable tax agreements enjoyed by hundreds of multinationals headquartered in Luxembourg) and Swiss Leaks (research into an extensive system of tax fraud via Swiss bank accounts). ICIJ’s articles on these issues were published in leading media outlets and have already led to several policy changes. A good example is the agreement among EU member states to share data on tax agreements with one another from now on.
In April 2016, ICIJ published the Panama Papers: an umbrella term for a massive amount of leaked confidential documents from Panamanian legal and corporate services provider Mossack Fonseca. The documents revealed a world of tax evasion, tax fraud, and illegal practices like bribery or avoiding trade sanctions. Mossack Fonseca—one of the major providers of so-called offshore companies—founded over 210,000 letterbox companies in 21 tax havens for its clients. Among them are several famous politicians, business people, and professional athletes. Panama’s status as tax haven allowed them to avoid or even completely evade their tax obligations.
The publication resulted in public outrage regarding the injustice of tax evasion and avoidance. People considered avoiding tax duties to be immoral and unethical. Those involved were forced to account for their actions. The Icelandic Prime Minister resigned, Putin was put on the defensive, and FIFA officials were suspended. In addition to investigations by tax authorities, there will be several parliamentary and institutional investigations into the banking and trust industry. The extensive attention has led to speeding up coordinated efforts to prevent undesirable tax evasion practices, both within the EU and in the G20.
Since Adessium Foundation greatly values investigative journalism, we have been supporting ICIJ since 2008 with organizational support so the organization can continue to independently publish in-depth investigative reports for the widest possible audience. Adessium Foundation has no say on the subjects selected, nor is involved in the contents of ICIJ research and publications.
About this partner
The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists is a global network of more than 200 investigative journalists in 70 countries who collaborate on in-depth investigative stories.
Founded in 1997 by the respected American journalist Chuck Lewis, ICIJ was launched as a project of the Center for Public Integrity, focusing on issues that do not stop at national frontiers: cross-border crime, corruption, and the accountability of power.