Reuters top stories in 2012
2012 was a year of change and turmoil within the business and political arenas – from the ongoing sagas of the Eurozone crisis and Libor scandal, to the first year in the life of the world’s newest nation, South Sudan. Discover some of Reuters outstanding investigative journalism and coverage of international events that made the news.
Chesapeake energy series
For years, not even the largest shareholders of Chesapeake Energy Corp knew its CEO’s secrets. Aubrey K. McClendon, who had founded the nation’s second-largest natural gas producer and served as chairman and chief executive, had taken out more than $1 billion in personal loans in exchange for pledging his share of company wells. What’s more, he had been quietly operating a$200 million hedge fund from inside Chesapeake headquarters. Both matters were exposed in an extensive series of Special Reports and scoops. As a result, Chesapeake board members stripped McClendon of his chairmanship, the IRS and Securities and Exchange Commission opened inquiries, and the price of Chesapeake stock tumbled.
Reuters has led the Greek debt story this year with a series of major scoops and special reports. Our reporting exposed a series of conflicts of interest, interconnected loans and payoffs that had not been disclosed to investors, highlighted by auditors or investigated by regulators. Our coverage has been spoken about in the Greek parliament and formed the basis of debates on Greek television.
In a gripping four-part serial narrative, Reuters reconstructed the making of the so-called new face of terrorism – Colleen LaRose, the blonde-haired, green-eyed, American-born woman who went by the nickname Jihad Jane. Based on our months-long review of confidential investigative documents and interviews with sources in Europe and the United States — including the first and only interview with Jihad Jane herself – our series of Special Reports revealed a far less menacing and, in some ways, more preposterous undertaking than what the U.S. government asserted. Indeed, at almost every turn LaRose and her accomplices bungled their plot to kill the Swedish artist Lars Vilks, Reuters found.
Starbucks’ european tax practices
Two Special Reports by Tom Bergin uncovered the extremely aggressive accounting practices that Starbucks has employed in the UK, France and Germany to dramatically minimize the taxes they pay. The stories prompted a UK tax probe, in which British lawmakers cited the Reuters investigation, and at the G20, Britain and Germany said they would look into whether multinational companies are paying a fair share in taxes.
Reuters has led Eurozone coverage this year with a series of major scoops and special reports. Among the many highlights was a fantastic special report that peeled back the covers on the European Central Bank’s decision to buy national bonds to prop up the euro. We revealed that when ECB chief Mario Draghi promised in July, at a speech in London, to do “whatever it takes” to save the euro, he did not even have a plan. The bond-buying program was hatched up after he gave his speech.
Reuters London-based senior correspondent Steve Stecklow documented in a series of investigative articles how Iran is skirting U.S. sanctions and has managed to obtain sophisticated and embargoed computer technology—with the complicity of foreign companies. The series sparked a number of investigations in the United States and led to China’s ZTE Corp announcing plans to limit business in Iran. Soon after, Cisco Systems notified ZTE it was ending a seven-year-old sales agreement between the two companies.
Reuters delivered unmatched coverage of Facebook’s IPO with a series of news scoops. Reuters exclusively revealed that Morgan Stanley, the lead underwriter on Facebook’s $16 billion IPO, unexpectedly cut revenue estimates just before the deal; after the publication of the story, Facebook shares fell close to 9 percent in early trading. A few days later, Reuters added to its strong coverage with a detailed look at how a lack of communication and misinformation from NASDAQ may have been central to the failed debut of Facebook’s shares. And we produced a must-read profile of the Morgan Stanley analyst who dared to lower his earnings forecasts even as the bank was managing the $16 billion stock sale.
A May Special Report revealed details from confidential Justice Department documents that HSBC’s U.S. operations violated the Bank Secrecy Act and other anti-money laundering laws by letting hundreds of billions of dollars in transactions flow through the bank unmonitored – funds possibly linked to drug-trafficking, terrorist financing and other criminal activity. A later story revealed that at least 11 different U.S. departments, offices and regulators as well as the U.S. Senate have probed HSBC Holdings for money-laundering lapses in investigations that date back to at least 2007.
In the heat of the Libor scandal, Reuters produced a number of news scoops and insights that advanced the probe. We revealed that the Federal Reserve Bank of New York may have known as early as August 2007 that the setting of global benchmark interest rates was flawed, that U.S. prosecutors and European regulators are close to arresting individual traders and charging them with colluding to manipulate global benchmark interest rates and that Barclays Plc ousted a top executive and a trader in New York for their roles in the recent Libor scandal. We also produced a revealing insight that reported that court documents and sources close to the Libor scandal investigation suggest that groups of traders working at three major European banks were heavily involved in rigging global benchmark interest rates.
Reuters outstanding coverage of Myanmar included multiple enterprise stories and news pieces. We had spot-news scoops on the fact that the country would float its currency and another scoop on the initial exchange rate. Meanwhile, we did compelling and revelatory in-depth stories on many topics: Aung San Suu Kyi’s pivot from idealist protestor to practical politician, the brutal treatment of the nation’s Rohingya Muslim minority, and the rush by corporate Japan to get into Myanmar first, to name just a few.
After the attempted suicide of PFGBest’s founder and chairman Russell Wasendorf Sr. set off an investigation that uncovered more than $200 million in allegedly missing client funds, Reuters was nearly an hour ahead with news on that PFGBest had told customers that their accounts were frozen amid an investigation into “accounting irregularities.” The following day, we exclusively reported details of how Wasendorf carried out the apparent fraud, duping regulators to send confidential documents to verify his bank balances to a post office box that Wasendorf himself controlled. We also provided a detailed look at the National Futures Association, the watchdog that missed blatant fraud at the failed brokerage for nearly two decades, and produced a two-part Special Report that provided the most complete account yet of the rise and fall of Wasendorf.
In a pair of Special Reports, Reuters exposed the power of the food industry in the fight against obesity. Lobbying records analyzed by Reuters revealed that the industries more than doubled their spending in Washington during the past three years. In the process, they largely dominated policymaking—pledging voluntary action while defeating government proposals aimed at changing the nation’s diet, dozens of interviews show. In yet another piece with global repercussions, Reuters exposed how food-industry giants are shaping policy at the World Health Organization, revealing the first-ever corporate donations to WHO by Coke, Unilever and Nestle.
South Sudan series
Reuters produced a compelling series of Special Reports chronicling the first year in the life of South Sudan and assessing whether the world’s newest nation will flourish or fail. The series included a look at how the country’s entire public health system has been turned over to foreign aid groups and a narrative that revealed how a band of obscure policy mavens in Washington pulled off an improbable diplomatic coup, persuading U.S. leaders to back independence for South Sudan.
Find these stories and more on Reuters.com.