ICIJ uses Neo4j’s Native Graph Platform to Unlock Explosive 13 Million Files Paradise Papers Leak
SAN MATEO, Calif., Nov. 14, 2017 — Today Neo4j, the market leader in connected data, announced that the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) relied on Neo4j’s Native Graph Platform to analyze and understand the Paradise Papers, a massive collection of more than 13 million leaked files that outline offshore tax haven activity across the globe. This data has been added to ICIJ’s Offshore Leaks Database, built in Neo4j and visualized with Linkurious, which was also used to unravel the Panama Papers leak, released in 2016, an investigative effort that won the prestigious Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Reporting.
The Paradise Papers leak is made up of more than 13.4 million files in a variety of types of data, making manual discovery and analysis unfeasible for the ICIJ and the hundreds of journalists who investigated the documents. The ICIJ had already seen success with Neo4j for its Panama Papers research – and a handful of smaller scale projects – so it turned to the Neo4j platform, once again.
“The true value of these leaked files was in the connections we could draw between data points, but finding those manually would’ve taken years and would’ve probably been impossible,” said Pierre Romera, CTO at the ICIJ. “Neo4j is critical – despite the leak’s massive size, it allows us to understand connections between all of our data – people, entities, transactions – and it helps us find the promising leads to investigate. The best investigatory journalism is a combination of smart people and smart technology, and that’s how our team is executing. This investigation would not have been possible without Neo4j.”
Investigative journalists have limited staff but exploding amounts of data to analyze and understand, which has driven demand for Neo4j’s technology, which is now used by some of the largest and most well-respected news organizations on the planet. Aside from playing a key role in the Panama Papers and Paradise Papers, Neo4j is also used by Buzzfeed, The Guardian, NBC News, Columbia School of Journalism and The New York Times for investigative journalism and data visualization.
“The Paradise Papers is exciting for us as a company and yet another example of how Neo4j can help any industry make sense of its data, whether it’s financial, government, retail, telecom or investigative journalism,” said Emil Eifrem, CEO and co-founder of Neo4j. “The team at ICIJ is working on history making, cutting-edge research, and we’re proud that Neo4j has played such an important role in simplifying those efforts. ICIJ is the champion of “following the money” and their findings are explosive. What really impresses me is that their drive for transparency is setting the model for how governments, financial institutions and global organizations can also stop wrongdoing and fraud and maintain compliance in their own businesses.”
Neo4j is committed to empowering investigative journalists. Earlier this year, Neo4j worked with the ICIJ to launch its first “Neo4j Connected Data Fellow” earlier this year. The fellow – Manuel Villa – was involved in the Paradise Papers research.
The revelations in linking companies, people, legal practices and financial accounts within the Paradise Papers investigation illustrate the impact of connected data once it is revealed and then navigated. Taking this concept further is easy, especially for enterprise development and IT organizations, in designing live applications that search for telltale signs while activity is happening. This is the foundation for how to use Neo4j across a variety of similar use cases including:
- Fraud Detection, where impersonators can be detected by evaluating their online activity against the expected norm.
- Anti-Money Laundering, by evaluating transfers from account to account, looking for similar or popular patterns
- Authentication and Identity Management can be verified by quickly matching past activity to what is currently happening, while also building an institutional memory of all activity. This is an exceptional use case for government or law enforcement.
- Social networks that connect individuals with common goals (like sheltering income in tax havens)
- Internet of connected things like smart homes, cars and supply chains that link people, processes and digital systems.
- Metadata management and big data analytics help identify new and increase the density of connected data networks.
Connected data helps all organizations stay relevant and think ahead like a technology company. Neo4j helps over 250 global enterprises reveal and grow connections within their data, including half of the top 25 global banks, such as UBS, who recognize that the value of connected data grows both as Metcalf’s Law dictates-in relation to the square of the number of nodes involved, and in the density of connections among them.