FinCEN Files survey named Pulitzer Prize finalist

The FinCEN Files survey was recognized as a finalist for the 2021 Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting, bringing more praise to the groundbreaking project from the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, BuzzFeed News and over 100 other media partners across the world.

Columbia University Pulitzer Council recognized the FinCEN Files reporting team on Friday for completing a “massive reporting project” that produced “sweeping revelations” about the “role of some of the world’s largest banks in facilitating international money laundering and trafficking in goods and people, corruption that continues to frustrate regulators around the world.

More than 400 journalists from 88 countries participated in the survey.

“This latest honor is a tribute to the hard work of ICIJ staff and partner journalists around the world,” said ICIJ Director Gerard Ryle. “It is also a tribute to the power of collaborative journalism which is at the heart of the ICIJ model. We are delighted to share this honor with BuzzFeed, who made this partnership possible by sharing an explosive treasure trove of secret U.S. government documents with the ICIJ and other partners.

BuzzFeed News Won the Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting for his innovative series of stories about the mass detention of Muslims in China. Along with the FinCEN Files collaboration, other finalists in the International Reporting category were the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times.

The ICIJ and its partners won the Pulitzer Prize for explanatory report in 2017 for another investigation into financial corruption, the Panama Papers.

Earlier this year, three Norwegian lawmakers nominated the ICIJ for a Nobel Peace Prize for nearly a decade of investigations – including the Panama Papers and FinCEN files – which revealed how politicians, mega groups -riches and criminals have used “offshore” financial resources. system to dodge taxes and launder dirty money.

FinCEN Files won several other journalism accolades this year, including Tom Renner Award for Investigative Journalists and Editors to “cover up organized crime or other criminal acts”.

The FinCEN Files investigation found that five global banks – JPMorgan Chase, HSBC, Standard Chartered Bank, Deutsche Bank and Bank of New York Mellon – continued to profit from suspicious transactions even after paying fines to US authorities for previous misconduct. and in some cases signed deferred prosecution agreements.

In hundreds of stories that began appearing in September 2020, the ICIJ, BuzzFeed News and other partners discussed how laws designed to end financial crime have instead allowed it to thrive – and how banks that move dirty money can protect themselves by filing “suspicious activity reports” that authorities are unlikely to read, let alone act.

The investigation began when a blower provided BuzzFeed News reporter Jason Leopold with a remarkable collection of highly confidential documents filed with the US Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, known for short as FinCEN. Natalie Mayflower Sours Edwards, the U.S. Treasury official who leaked the financial intelligence documents to BuzzFeed News, was sentenced last week to six months in prison.

In one opinion piece published Thursday, BuzzFeed News editor-in-chief Mark Schoofs called Edward’s conviction and conviction “unjust and unjust.” Our criminal justice system must recognize that much of what we know about financial corruption, government surveillance and corporate crime does not come from journalists working in isolation, but from journalists working with people at risk. their freedom and their livelihood to make sure the truth comes out.

The documents included more than 2,100 suspicious activity reports, which banks and other financial institutions are required to submit to FinCEN when they see characteristics of illegal activity.

Turning these dense reports into groundbreaking journalism required an enormous feat of sifting and analyzing data, as well as a coordinated global reporting effort. Journalists spread across the world, contacting thousands of sources: presidential advisers, bankers, cops, even gangsters and arms traffickers. Along the way, the ICIJ and its partners obtained more than 17,600 additional documents, including audit reports and other documents, from dozens of countries.

Journalists gathered in Hamburg for a FinCEN Files meeting. Image: Scilla Alecci / HERE

“It took a global team effort to uncover the flow and destructive evil of dirty money around the world,” said Ryle, Director of ICIJ. “Our efforts have attracted much criticism of weak international defenses against some kind of criminal activity that can lead to inequality and destabilize nations.”

The FinCEN Files survey has been credited with sparking new efforts by governments around the world to fight money laundering.

After the ICIJ, BuzzFeed News and other partners approached the Treasury Department with the findings of the investigation, the Department ad a plan to “respond to the evolving threats of illicit financing”. New York’s main banking regulator, which plays an important role in overseeing global banks, admitted that dirty money had metastasized “into the bowels of financial institutions.”

Key members of Congress credited Disclosures of the FinCEN files contributed to the final impetus that led to the passage of the Corporate Transparency Act, the largest revision of US anti-money laundering policy in a generation.

The UK’s powerful Treasury committee has said it will continue an investigation into the effectiveness of the country’s anti-money laundering regime. Authorities in Liberia, Seychelles and Thailand have launched investigations and European Parliament lawmakers have demanded a more aggressive approach to combating money laundering.

“The FinCEN files have taken financial reporting to new heights,” Schoofs, editor-in-chief of BuzzFeed News, said Friday in response to the Pulitzer board announcement. The confidential documents Edwards provided, he said, led to a “monumental reporting effort” which “exposed how the big banks took advantage of the dirty money that went through their accounts, while the government American monitored but rarely took action “.


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