Secrecy for Sale

Published — April 26, 2013 Updated — May 19, 2014 at 12:51 pm ET

EU continues to seek action after ICIJ ‘Secrecy for Sale’ investigation


Our reporting on secret tax havens continues to ignite reaction from around the globe and appears to be having a major impact in Europe. The investigative series on offshore secrecy by The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), the Center for Public Integrity’s international project, draws from a cache of 2.5 million secret records. The work has prompted governments to launch investigations, and politicians and journalists to debate the implications of the records and the reporting.

Among the latest developments:

  • The European Commissioner on Taxation Algirdas Šemeta and Irish Finance Minister Michael Noonan sent a letter to all EU Finance Ministers, setting out seven key areas for immediate action in improving the fight against tax fraud, evasion and avoidance. Member States were asked to agree on these actions at a conference in May. The letter credits the offshore leaks investigation with “sharpening the focus” on tax fraud, and says it will ask ICIJ to supply names and details of European citizens from its data.
  • Finance ministers and central bankers at the G20 meeting in Washington said in a communiqué that automatic exchange of tax-relevant bank information should be adopted as the global standard for overcoming international tax evasion. Skeptical European leaders reportedly “became more enthusiastic” after the public outcry over ICIJ’s offshore leaks revelations.
  • Transparency advocates, such as Global Financial Integrity, are hailing the recent announcement by British Prime Minister David Cameron, who called for members of the G-8 and the European Union to abolish so-called phantom firms. Cameron has also endorsed public registries of company ownership to “break through the walls of corporate secrecy” that facilitate tax dodging, money laundering and corruption. Battling tax evasion and avoidance is said to be a priority for the G-8 summit that the British Prime Minister will host in June.

The Center’s ICIJ investigative reporting on tax havens will continue throughout the year.

Center environment team at White House Correspondents’ Association dinner

Three excellent Center for Public Integrity environmental reporters will be in black tie Saturday night for the gala awards dinner of the White House Correspondents Association. Jim Morris, Ronnie Greene and Chris Hamby will be picking up one of the Association’s three distinguished awards for their investigative series on Hard Labor — the many threats to America’s workers, and the fragile federal net that protects them.

Each year, some 4,500 American workers die on the job — that’s 13 workers per day on average — and 50,000 perish from occupational diseases. Millions more are hurt and sickened at workplaces, and many others are cheated of wages and abused. Under the banner Hard Labor, The Center for Public Integrity publishes stories exploring threats to workers — and the corporate and regulatory failings that endanger them.

This is the first time The Center for Public Integrity has won a WHCA award, and one of the very first ever digital winners. Here is what the Judges had to say about our selection:

“With deft story-telling and precise data, ‘Hard Labor’ compellingly shows the government has failed to keep its promise to protect workers from injury and death on the job. Drawing on years of data and on-the-ground reporting in eight states and Canada, the authors demonstrate how corporate corner-cutting, government inability or unwillingness to impose meaningful penalties, and bureaucratic pressure to make caseload quotas have stymied real regulation. They tell the workers’ stories in a manner that evokes Studs Terkel, excellently weaving human interest with deep-data scrutiny and using numbers sparingly but with powerful effect. ‘Hard Labor’ clearly meets the … standard of ‘excellence in news coverage of subjects and events of significant national or regional importance to the American people.'”

Congratulations to Jim, Ronnie and Chris and to all of the Center’s top notch investigative reporters and editors, who earn readers and recognition every day for their important work.

Until Next Week,


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