The Washington Post, ICIJ, Media partners, 2022
Author(s): Debbie Cenziper, Peter Whoriskey | The Washington Post, Will Fitzgibbon and Scilla Alecci | ICIJ | Media partners
More than 600 journalists at more than 140 news outlets in 117 countries joined forces for the largest collaboration in journalism history. The result was the “Pandora Papers – A Global Investigation,” an unprecedented reporting partnership that prompted 20 investigations, brought down governments and led to anti-money laundering reform in the U.S.
The Pandora Papers is an eye-opening tale of money and power in the 21st Century.
The investigation began with the leak of 11.9 million offshore financial documents – the largest leak of its kind. Deciphering the mountain of data was an enormous, daunting task. Fourteen members of International Consortium of Investigative Journalists’ data team spent a year extracting and verifying data from more than 29,000 offshore accounts. The records spanned five decades and were written in more than a dozen languages. The content was murky and arcane. The data team pored over 467,000 spreadsheets and more than 4 million pages. The team uncovered the financial secrets of more than 330 current and former presidents, prime ministers and other officials around the world.
The project’s reporting team, which overcame threats and intimidation, exposed an offshore economy that has grown bolder, larger and more secretive. The reporting revealed tax dodging and financial crime enabled by Western politicians, lawyers, bankers and others.
The impact of the “Pandora Papers” has been far reaching. Voters in the Czech Republic ousted their prime minister. Voters in Honduras rejected the ruling party’s presidential candidate. In Chile, lawmakers impeached their president. Ecuador’s president is under investigation. And in Belize an investigation into the former attorney general has been opened.
As one U.S. lawmaker put it, the team’s work on the Pandora Papers delivered a “wakeup call to all who care about the future of democracy.”
Ursula and Dr. Gilbert Farfel created an endowed scholarship at Ohio University, Ursula’s alma mater, to support establishment of this award. Presented in cooperation with the Scripps College of Communication at Ohio University, the prize honors excellence in investigative reporting.