Written By: - Date published: 8:46 am, April 6th, 2013 - 18 comments
Categories: accountability, capitalism, Ethics, International, news, overseas investment, telecommunications - Tags: duncan campbell, investigative journalism, nicky hager
Congratulations to Duncan Campbell, Nicky Hager, et al involved in the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists for doing such a great job on the Gobal Offshore Money Maze. It began with an opportunity, as Duncan Campbell explains:
The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists’exploration of the secretive world of offshore companies and trusts began after a computer hard drive packed with corporate data and personal information and e-mails arrived in the mail.
Gerard Ryle, ICIJ’s director, obtained the data trove as a result of his three-year investigation of Australia’s Firepower scandal, a case involving offshore havens and corporate fraud.
The offshore information totaled more than 260 gigabytes of useful data. ICIJ’s analysis of the hard drive showed that it held about 2.5 million files, including more than 2 million e-mails that help chart the offshore industry over a long period of explosive growth. It is one of the biggest collections of leaked data ever gathered and analyzed by a team of investigative journalists.
For the geeks, Campbell then goes into an explanation of how they developed software to sift through the jumble of data, and analyse it.
Of particular note is the high regard of Nicky Hager held by top investigative journalists internationally. This inspite of the way NAct and their lackeys attempt to bad-mouth and undermine Hager. Underneath Duncan Campbell’s article explaining the project, is this:
Duncan Campbell (U.K.), a founding member of ICIJ, is the ICIJ Data Journalism Manager for the Offshore Project and a contributing journalist. Programmers Sebastian Mondial (Germany), Matthew Fowler (UK), Rigoberto Carvajal and Matthew Caruana (Costa Rica) provided custom software design, programming and data support. The initial manual analysis of the client names was done by ICIJ member Nicky Hager and Barbara Mare (New Zealand). ICIJ member Giannina Segnini oversaw the work in Costa Rica.
It will be a long time before all the data is fully interrogated and leads followed up. Of note is the way Banks, financial speculators and wealth manipulators have been skewing the system. they do this in ways that are further impoverishing the least wealthy and powerful people in diverse countries. In his above linked article, Campbell says:
ICIJ’s data analysis showed that the people setting up offshore entities lived most often in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan. Another important group of clients comes from Russia and former Soviet republics. This helps explain why the second-largest source of capital investment flowing into China is the tiny offshore tax haven of the British Virgin Islands. Similarly, a large source of investment flowing into Russia is from Cyprus, a country that also features heavily in the data – and whose financial stability was recently undermined by a crisis precipitated by Cypriot-based banks being bloated by Russian money.
But don’t think it’s all those nasty folk in non-western countries orchestrating the dirty (though usually legal) deals. It is telling that Germany’s Deutsche Bank has been encouraging and managing a lot of these secret offshore accounts. Furthermore, banks and other enterprises in Australia and NZ have also been part of the network. See for instance links in Selwyn Manning’s Daily Blog post on the project. One of the links goes to an ICIJ’s article on ‘Inside the shell: Drugs, arms and tax scams‘, on Queenslander George Taylor’s activities, family and networks:
Within this context, Taylor has led an astonishing double life. Publicly, he has served as a company director and chairman of sharemarket-listed companies both in Australia and in New Zealand. …
By then Taylor’s name, and the names of family members and associates, began to appear in hundreds and possibly thousands of companies that were formed around the world, mostly centered on tax havens. Their vast empire of directorships spread across Panama, New Zealand, Vanuatu, Britain, Hong Kong, China, Canada, Belize, Samoa, the Cook Islands, and the US, among others. …
More details of the activities in NZ/Auckland in the linked article.
Such projects restore my hopes in future of investigative journalism. They also show how the capabilities of digital technologies can put to uses that benefit the many in holding the powerful few to account.