Data reporting & analysis, investigative reporting 2012 – 2013
Core member of the Offshore Leaks investigation, the biggest collaborative team of journalists up 2015, assembled to sift through 260 gigabytes of unstructured data – 2.5 millions of secret records from 10 tax havens– (documents, emails, spreadsheets), an award-winning project by ICIJ. The data needed to be interrogated, verified and checked against multiple sources. Starting from the leaked documents, we filed numerous FOIA requests to obtain additional documentation, and combined it with court records and corporate filings, and interviewed a number of sources to produce stories that had a profound impact.
The project put a ground base for an even larger collaborative team of journalists that worked on Paradise Papers (2017) and Panama Papers (2016), and is still making an impact. Just in late November of 2018, Deutsche Bank’s Frankfurt headquarters have been raided by 170 German police officers and officials, in connection with the Offshore Leaks and Panama Papers documents. Some of the key findings were:
- Millions of leaked files revealed how tax havens around the world are used to hide riches.
- Ponzi schemers and other large-scale fraudsters especially in Eastern Europe routinely used offshore havens to pull off their shell games and move their ill-gotten gains from former-communist countries such as Serbia, Macedonia and others.
- Government officials and their families and associates in China, Azerbaijan, Russia, Canada, Pakistan, the Philippines, Thailand, Mongolia and other countries have embraced the use of covert companies and bank accounts.
- The mega-rich use complex offshore structures to own mansions, yachts, art masterpieces and other assets, gaining tax advantages and anonymity not available to average people.
- Many of the world’s top’s banks – including UBS, Credit Suisse and Deutsche Bank – have aggressively worked to provide their customers with secrecy-cloaked companies in the British Virgin Islands and other offshore hideaways.
- A well-paid industry of accountants, middlemen and other operatives has helped offshore patrons shroud their identities and business interests, providing shelter in many cases to money laundering or other misconduct.
Here are some of the stories I worked on that came out from this project: