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A Pulitzer Prize for the Panama Papers

Web Foundation · April 12, 2017

We’d like to congratulate the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) for winning a Pulitzer Prize – perhaps the biggest accolade in journalism – awarded for its groundbreaking investigation that led to the release of the Panama Papers last year.

The ICIJ coordinated the work of hundreds of journalists around the globe who, investigating a cache of leaked documents from Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca, uncovered a vast infrastructure of offshore companies being used for tax evasion, money laundering and fraud. The Pulitzer, announced on Tuesday, reflects the impact the Panama Papers had in countries across the world, implicating politicians, world leaders, corporations and financial institutions.

Funding Panama Papers investigations in Africa

We’re also glad to have played a small – but important – role in Panama Papers investigations in Africa through our financial support of the African Network of Centres for Investigative Reporting (ANCIR) as part of the Open Data for Development (OD4D) network. ANCIR worked with media partners across the continent, publishing stories revealing oil-related tax evasion in Uganda, money laundering through Angola’s sovereign wealth fund and illicit payments to secure infrastructure contracts in Namibia.

Creating a culture of transparency

The Panama Papers highlighted the urgency of addressing networked corruption funneling money to wealthy elites at the expense of ordinary citizens. While we congratulate the journalists who investigated the Mossack Fonseca documents, we want to move towards a world where we don’t have to rely on leaks to uncover corruption.

That’s is why we’re working with other leading civil society organisations to build a global register of beneficial ownership information through OpenOwnership. By making the owners and beneficiaries of companies open information, we can create a culture of transparency where governments know exactly who they’re awarding contracts to, firms know who they are really doing business with, and citizens and civil society are able to hold companies and governments accountable. OpenOwnership was recently released in Beta, and the launch and demo is available to watch on-demand.

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