This week The Fraud Chronicles Roundup focuses on the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists “Offshore Leaks” Probe.
Facts about the ICIJ
- The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists was founded by the Center for Public Integrity in 1997. The ICIJ’s purpose is to support watchdog journalism focusing on issues of international concern, including cross-border crime, corruption, and power accountability.
- The ICIJ is an active global network of 160 investigative reporters from more than 60 countries, collaborating on in-depth investigative stories.
- The ICIJ is backed by specialists in information technology, public records, fact-checking, and law from the Center for Public Integrity.
- The ICIJ works to produce “groundbreaking multimedia reports that adhere to the highest standards of fairness and accuracy.”
- More about the ICIJ
April, 2013: ICIJ Releases “Offshore Leaks” Data
- Secret Files Expose Offshore’s Global Impact. (3 April 2013) The ICIJ announced the results of 86 of journalists from 46 who had “sifted through millions of leaked records and thousands of names to produce ICIJ’s investigation into offshore secrecy.” ICIJ’s cache of 2.5 million files cracked open 120,000 offshore companies and trusts, exposing the secrets of politicians, fraudsters, and the ultra-rich. The total size (in gigabytes) of leaked documents is “more than 160 times larger than the leak of U. S. State Department documents by Wikileaks in 2010.” The resulting information from the ICIJ’s investigation reveals that mingled with perfectly legal transactions, the world network of offshore investments also allows fraud, tax dodging and political corruption to thrive.
Understanding how the Offshore Leaks Database works
- How ICIJ’s Project Team Analyzed the Offshore Files.
- How ICIJ Built the Offshore Leaks Database.
- Data Caveats and Limitations. The database shows relationships and networks among people or companies and offshore entities, much like a searchable corporate registry. Data comes from the following 10 locations: British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Cook Islands, Singapore, Hong Kong, Samoa, Seychelles, Mauritius, Labuan and Malaysia and originates from two data service firms: Singapore-based Portcullis TrustNet and BVI-based Commonwealth Trust Limited (CTL). Some data has been removed from the database (i.e. contact information, pictures, passport data) because of privacy concerns, but no information has been altered. The data covers the 30 year period ending in 2010.
- The ICIJ Map shows ICIJ Stories around the World. click a dot on the interactive map to explore a region and see links to all ICIJ-related stories in that region. From the map screen, users can also access:
- A “search the database” screen. Once a region is selected on this screen, other links pop up to allow viewing of regional news related the Offshore Links
- Users Can Search and Browse Offshore Leaks Database By Country on the main search page.
- Map page “where are the clients” screen reveals how many regional individuals and businesses are revealed in the database.
- Map page gives regional news links
- Getting the Most out of Offshore Leaks Data.
Canada – Offshore Leaks
- Massive Data Leak Exposes Offshore Financial Secrets: Hundreds of Canadian named in tax-haven records shared exclusively in Canada with CBC News “They sought the utmost secrecy in offshore tax havens. But now some of the world’s wealthiest citizens are having their undisclosed financial records laid bare.” (CBCNews, 4 Apr 2013)
- Interactive: How The Rich Hide Their Money. Tax Havens explained: How the rich hide money. Super wealthy have vast array of options to take cash offshore. (CBC News, 1 Oct 2013)
- Map: Where Canada’s offshore account-holders live: Canadian names in offshore files. Toronto and Vancouver addresses come up most often in huge cache of leaked files.(CBC News, 3 April 2013)
- Why CBC News isn’t publishing all the names. (CBC News, 4 April 2013)
- Senator’s husband put $1.7M in offshore tax havens: Lawyer Tony Merchant named in leaked data shared exclusively in Canada with CBC News (CBC News, 4 Apr 2013)
- Canadian tax cheats come clean amid close scrutiny of offshore havens. Wealthy Canadians with money stashed overseas have come forward in droves to confess their misdeeds after secret lists began circulating with the names of people apparently evading taxes in foreign banking havens. (Globe and Mail, 14 Apr 2013)
China – Offshore Leaks
- Offshore assets of China’s elite leaked by International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. Files shed light on more than 20,000 tax haven clients, including relatives of president. (CBC News, 21 Jan 2014)
- China’s Scandal-Torn Oil Industry Embraces Tax Havens. One man’s legal battle against oil giant highlights role that offshore murk plays in China’s economy. (ICIJ, 22 Jan 2014) (Chinese version of ICIJ story)
- The British Virgin Islands: A Forbidden City. A French journalist travels from Paris to visit the Caribbean hideaway that has become the favorite destination for Chinese offshore patrons.
Global – Offshore Leaks
Politicians Talk Tough On Tax Haven Reform, But Activists Say Talk Is Cheap. Big players are taking unprecedented steps to stop offshore abuses, but financial crime fighters worry reforms don’t go far enough. (ICIJ, 20 Nov 2013)
- Release of Offshore Rocords Draws Worldwide Response: ICIJ’s “Offshore Leaks” probe has ignited reactions around the globe – sparking official investigations, sweeping policy changes and high-profile resignations. “The European Union’s top tax official has called Offshore Leaks “the most significant trigger” behind Europe’s newfound resolve to crack down on offshore hideaways and global tax dodging.” (ICIJ, 11 Mar 2014)
That completes The Fraud Chronicles roundup for this week.
Do you have a news, court or regulatory body information on an interesting fraud case? Comment on this posting or Tweet @fighting_fraud to share your Web links of publicly available fraud news and case information.
Vanessa G. Oltmann
Education and integrity – the best weapons against fraud and corruption