Gerard Ryle in conversation with Bill Birnbauer

In April 2013, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists published the first of a series of astonishing reports revealing the secret financial records of tens of thousands of people in more than 170 countries linked to offshore companies and trusts. What became one of the biggest multi-country investigations in history started in 2011 when then-Fairfax Media investigative journalist Gerard Ryle received a mysterious package in the post: a hard drive containing 2.5 million digital files.

It turned out to be a treasure trove of information – more than 160 times bigger than the Wikileaks release of U.S. State Department documents in 2010 – yielding financial information from more than 120,000 offshore companies and trusts and nearly 130,000 individuals. Moving to Washington D.C. to become director of the ICIJ, established by the Center for Public Integrity 15 years ago, Ryle led 86 journalists from 46 countries through a complex 15-month investigation involving high-tech data crunching and sifting through emails, account ledgers and other files covering nearly 30 years. In doing so, his team cracked open the secrets of  politicians, con-men and the mega-rich the world over, laying bare the names behind companies and private trusts in the British Virgin Islands, the Cook Islands and other offshore hideaways. The ICIJ now has 175 members in more than 60 countries. Don’t miss this extraordinary insight into what it takes to conduct a truly global investigation.

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