Inside Public Integrity

Published — February 16, 2015 Updated — February 17, 2015 at 7:57 am ET

ICIJ’s offshore secrets series wins George Polk Award

Multi-year series by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists wins business reporting award.


The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) has won a prestigious Polk Award for its multi-year reporting project “Offshore Leaks” examining tax havens and new ways that wealthy companies avoid taxes around the world. The project was comprised of 120 journalists from 58 countries and 42 news organizations. ICIJ was founded in 1997 by Charles Lewis as part of the Center for Public Integrity.

The award, announced Sunday evening, is the second for the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. The Polk Awards, given by Long Island University, recognize journalism that “places a premium on investigative and enterprise work that is original, requires digging and resourcefulness, and brings results.” ICIJ’s citation is for business reporting.

“Offshore Leaks” was a three-year investigation focused on tax avoidance practices by companies in the United States, China and the European Union, including some of the most well-known brands like Pepsi, Disney and FedEx. It also revealed the inner workings of the tiny Grand Duchy of Luxembourg and its role in reducing tax bills, how China’s elite hid their own enormous fortunes offshore, and how New York real estate is “just another island haven” for funneling weath. The judges praised the work as it “documented tax dodges at the expense of national treasuries and average taxpayers.”

“The Consortium under the leadership of Gerard Ryle has developed powerful story-telling skills across a global network of committed members,” said Peter Bale, CEO of the Center for Public Integrity. “The Consortium has broken an unrivaled series of stories which go to the heart of the debate about inequality, from Offshore Leaks to the scoop on the epic scale of tax avoidance and wrongdoing known as Swiss Leaks. We are grateful that the Polk Award recognizes the importance of collaborative investigative reporting on this scale.”

The “Offshore Leaks” series includes:

The Polk Awards were established in 1949 by Long Island University (LIU) to commemorate George Polk, a CBS correspondent murdered in 1948 while covering the Greek civil war.

Awardees will be honored at a ceremony at The Roosevelt Hotel in Manhattan on April 10.

Among other winners of Polk awards are the New York Times, Washington Post, Politico Magazine, Chicago-Sun Times, Seattle Times, and Arizona Republic. For a full list, read the press release from Long Island University.

“The excellent work across a variety of media platforms reflected by 558 nominations from news organizations, individual journalists, and members of our advisory panel suggests that journalists are adapting well to a landscape no longer dominated exclusively by print,” said John Darnton, curator of the awards.

“LIU is proud to honor excellence in investigative journalism that spans the globe with the George Polk Awards,” said Dr. Kimberly R. Cline, president of LIU. “This year’s winners are true heroes who risked their lives uncovering the truth behind some of 2014’s most incredible stories, and we salute their courage and determination.”

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