At exactly 9pm GMT on February 8, a news story broke on multiple news outlets, in many countries. It went online at precisely that moment because that was the deal; the time that journalists from 45 countries agreed to simultaneously publish their reports on what have come to be known as the Swiss Leaks.

Both the story - about tax evasion - and the journalistic effort that exposed it - occurred on a global scale. The process got its start six years ago, in January 2009, when an employee-turned-whistleblower at the British bank HSBC handed over a trove of financial data to the authorities in France.

That data reportedly showed that HSBC, the world's second biggest bank, helped thousands of its clients hide money in secret accounts held by its private bank in Switzerland.

Then the French newspaper Le Monde got its hands on the data, along with a second leak. Le Monde's editors brought in the ICIJ, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.

Typically, news organisations do not like to share their scoops but Le Monde needed help. It wanted the consortium to assemble a global reporting team.

Given the scale of the story, the number of countries affected and the political implications - the logic was that the more reporters covering it, with their varied vantage points, the better.

This is a story about money. It involves news organisations, most of which are shrinking, teaming up to take on a behemoth in the world of banking.

Talking us through the story are three of the journalists involved in the investigation: Gerard Ryle, the director of ICIJ; P Vaidyanathan Iyer, the national affairs editor of The Indian Express; Gillles Van Kote, the director of Le Monde; and author Dean Starkman.

Source: Al Jazeera