From Luxleaks to Swissleaks: transnational investigative journalism at #ijf15

A journalistic investigation conducted at the end of 2014, which involved a network of 185 journalists coordinated by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalism (ICIJ), has brought to light the existence of a list of suspicious tax breaks dated back between 2002 and 2010, granted secretly by the government of Luxembourg, led at the time by the current president of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker. The investigation was called Luxleaks.

Through these secret agreements, major international companies have allegedly circumvented the payment of millions of euros of taxes, using particularly advantageous rates – and often less than 1% – applied in Luxembourg. The Guardian, Le Monde, Süddeutsche Zeitung, Le Soir were among the 40 major international news organizations which checked out the 28,000 pages of tax documents found and jointly published the results of the investigation.

From over 65 different countries, the journalists of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists have been dealing, for a while, with cases of corruption and transnational crimes – not least the investigation of tax havens known as Offshoreleaks (April 2013) and Chinaleaks (January 2014).

And now another investigation coordinated by ICIJ is holding the stage in the international media agenda. From Sunday 08 February, major international newspapers have begun to publish part of an investigation into an alleged tax evasion system on a global scale, which involves the British bank HSBC and the infamous Falciani list (which takes the name of the computer technician who allegedly took a set of confidential bank data dated back between November 2006 and March 2007). The list of the people involved can be found on the website of ICIJ.

The investigation, called Swissleaks, lasted eight months, and again saw the coordination of a network of large international media which worked and launched together the news (Guardian, BBC, Le Monde, L’Espresso). What would have happened if a newspaper had had to work independently, relying on its own resources? Would it have been able to obtain the same information? And would this information then be able to emerge with so much – dutiful – vehemence?

Mar Cabra is a Spanish investigative reporter, member of the ICIJ. She has had a leading role in both the Luxleaks and Swissleaks investigations. Cabra, who is just over 30 years old, has already won numerous international awards, thanks to her collaboration with the International Herald Tribune, Le Monde, El País, BBC, PBS. Mar Cabra will be a speaker at the International Journalism Festival in Perugia which will take place from 15 to 19 April, to talk about the two investigations, ICIJ’s role in the unveiling of the news and the need to create networks in the investigative journalism of today.