Saturday, April 6, 2013

Tale of offshore accounts, BIG money and big data


The gallery above is of some of the people identified by icij.org site for having secret offshore accounts. Portrait on the left belongs to Maria Imelda Marcos Manotoc, portrait in the center is of Baroness Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza and the gentleman on the right is Tony Merchant. All famous for various reasons. Source: icij.org

Also seen on ICIJ website and other sites are statements such as following:
  • "A cache of 2.5 million files has cracked open the secrets of more than 120,000 offshore companies and trusts, exposing hidden dealings of politicians, con men and the mega-rich the world over." Source: icij.org
  • "How do you present 260 gigabytes of international financial documents, revealing trillions of dollars in undisclosed wealth?" Source: nytimes.com

We probably are sitting on mountain on financial information that can change the financial narrative around the globe. This "big money big data" is a once in a lifetime kind of event and it has the potential to change the political and national discourse in many countries which are struggling with mountains of financial economic issues.

Based on the following blurb from icij.org home page that proudly announces: "For the past 15 months, journalists from over 40 countries have worked together to shed light on financial secrecy jurisdictions." And also ...
"To analyze the documents, ICIJ collaborated with reporters from The Guardian and the BBC in the U.K., Le Monde in France, Süddeutsche Zeitung and Norddeutscher Rundfunk in Germany, The Washington Post, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) and 31 other media partners around the world. Eighty-six journalists from 46 countries used high-tech data crunching and shoe-leather reporting to sift through emails, account ledgers and other files covering nearly 30 years."

I am happy to hear of the colloboration and the "high-tech" data crunching to sift through emails etc. But what is "high-tech' to some might be a decade old technology to others. So, how can we be sure?

The only way forward is that ICIJ (a non-profit) release this mother load of financial information to the public domain. If a few journalists can find so much good stuff on who is hiding money in offshore accounts and how, imagine what a dedicated army of foot soldiers could accomplish. I do not know all the possible outcomes of doing so but firmly believe that this data belongs to our tiny and unique  global village. And is meant for all to share and analyze.