Luxembourg Leaks: Global Companies’ Secrets Exposed

Luxembourg Leaks: Global Companies’ Secrets Exposed

Organisation: International Consoritum of Investigative Journalists (United States)

Publication Date: 04/10/2015



Category 2: Best Investigation of the year (Large Newsroom) The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, a project of the Center for Public Integrity, used leaked secret documents to report and expose the backroom deals that allowed more than 370 companies – including Disney, IKEA, Shire and Deutsche Bank – to avoid billions of euros in taxes on profits they channeled through Luxembourg. The secret agreements granted by the tiny European duchy damaged national treasuries in Europe and beyond. Some corporations enjoyed tax rates as low as 1%. Much of the data journalism ICIJ did was invisible to the eyes of the reader, but necessary to produce this groundbreaking investigation that prompted public protests, parliamentary debate in numerous countries, and an official investigation by the European Parliament. We manually structured the information found inside the 28,000 pages of leaked documents; enriched the data with an unprecedented analysis of registered addresses mined from the Luxembourg corporate registry; and made everything available for reporters from 26 countries to search in a global “virtual newsroom.” Following that, we published most of the files in an interactive application, which was embedded by several of our media partners. Even though the investigation was a collaboration between more than 80 reporters, all the data work was performed by ICIJ, a U.S.-based project with a staff of only 11. For this effort, 8 additional team members were hired temporarily. We suggest this work be considered for the category of best entry from a small newsroom.

Technologies used for this project:

For scraping and analysis: IMacros, .NET, Tor network, Open Refine, HTTrack, SQL Server, Microsoft Excel and Google Spreadsheets For the virtual newsroom: Apache Solr, Blacklight, Oxwall and MySQL For the interactive application: Node.js, Browserify, Compass and DocumentCloud
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