Reuters Investigates

Insight and investigations from our expert reporters

How Mendax made WikiLeaks a sensation

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WIKILEAKS-ASSANGE/ARREST By Mark Hosenball

On Tuesday, Julian Assange, the controversial Australian-born founder and frontman of the WikiLeaks website is scheduled to appear in a London courtroom for the latest hearing on a request by Swedish authorities that he be extradited to Sweden for questioning in a sexual misconduct investigation.

Assange has denied any wrongdoing in Sweden, and some of his supporters have dropped dark hints that the Swedish investigation could be part of some sinister conspiracy by the CIA or other WikiLeaks enemies to shut down both Assange and the website, which has lately roiled the world of international diplomacy by disclosing a cache of secret U.S. diplomatic cables.

Swedish prosecutors and the lawyer for two women who complained to the authorities about Assange’s behavior deny the sex investigation has anything to do with spy plots or politics. People who know the mercurial and sometimes imperious Assange say that even on best behavior, he can be a difficult person to deal with.

In this special report last week, we took you behind the Swedish investigation into the sex allegations against Assange, and explained how Assange himself might have avoided any investigation if he had been more accessible to two women who were anxious that he undergo medical tests which he apparently wanted to avoid.

China’s rebalancing act puts consumer to the fore

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consumerWal-Mart, the world’s largest retailer, now has 189 stories in China, according to its website. Soon it will have many more.  The U.S. chain has announced plans to open a series of “compact hypermarkets”, using a bare-bones model developed in Latin America, the Financial Times said.

Wal-Mart stores are a bit different than the one’s you might find in, say, Little Rock Arkansas. They sell live toads and turtles for one thing, The Economist reported. But they also sell the appliances, gadgets, and housewares that Wal-Mart stores merchandise everywhere.

WikiLeaks: What really happened in Sweden

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WIKILEAKS-ASSANGE/Some supporters of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange see a conspiracy behind Swedish prosecutors’ efforts to question him there on sexual misconduct charges. The prosecutors deny their move is political.

Mark Hosenball’s special report “Fear of STDs sparked case against WikiLeaks boss” tells the story of what happened in August when Assange was visiting Sweden.

The robosigning story goes on

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Shares Lender Processing Services Inc fell as much as 9.8 percent at one point on Monday after Scot Paltrow’s special report said the company, which helps banks manage mortgage foreclosure documentation, faces more serious legal troubles than it previously disclosed. The stock closed 5.77 percent down for the day.

Read the full report, “Legal woes mount for a foreclosure kingpin,” in multimedia PDF format here.

Waiter, there’s a bug in my orange juice

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When former  beauty queen Anita Bryant chirped more than four decades ago: “A day without orange juice is like a day without sunshine,” she wasn’t talking about green oranges or genetically altered ones, but that was then.

Now, an insect-borne bacterial disease known as “greening” threatens the very survival of Florida’s $9 billion citrus industry. Calvin Arnold, a scientist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, believes genetic engineering holds the only hope for a cure.

The ETF war is hotting up

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BOSTON – A battle royal is shaping up in the world of exchange-traded funds. After years of trailing in the race to attract new money from ETF investors, fund giant Vanguard is poised to take the top spot from iShares this year. But the big winners will be investors who are seeing fees plummet.

Aaron Pressman looks at the winners and losers in his special report “What did you do in the ETF war, daddy?”

Weird weather and the Amazon

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As scientists from around the world gather in Cancun for the latest U.N. conference on climate change, Stuart Grudgings reports from Caapiranga, in the heart of the Amazon rainforest, for his special report “Weird weather leaves Amazon thirsty.

This year’s drought in the Amazon was the kind of thing experts call a ”once in a century” event. Unfortunately, it was the second one in five years.

Escape from Wall Street

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Leah Schnurr and Edward Krudy report today on retail investors fleeing the stock market. Will the Lost Decade create a Lost Generation of investors who avoid the market in a way not seen since the Great Depression?

Here’s what one of the authors had to say about the story:

By Edward Krudy

The perception that the stock market is a place where the average person can share in the wealth of the nation has been a cornerstone of American society throughout the twentieth century. That’s why we felt it was a big deal when small investors started to abandon the market.

SAC Capital’s Steve Cohen yells fore!

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HEDGEFUNDS/GOLFMatthew Goldstein

Wall Street and golf have had  a long and storied love affair. And over the years, many a hedge fund manager has given up the trading game to spend more time on the links.

But the revelation that SAC Capital has hired a former institutional stock broker to spend most of his time on prestigious golf courses, schmoozing corporate executives and wealthy investors, is another stark example of what separates hedge fund managers from mere mortal investors.  As several securities experts told me, it doesn’t really matter whether or not a corporate executive says anything of real substance to Steve Cohen’s unofficial golf pro, Sam Evans. What matters is that Cohen and his traders are getting the kind of unique and intimate access to corporate executives that ordinary investors can never dream of.

A one-woman Enron

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roqumoreOur latest special report, “Was a Houston energy trader a one-woman Enron?” examines the case of an obscure energy trader in Houston who prosecutors say managed to scam $6.8 million from major energy companies.

Stephanie Roqumore was pretty much unknown in the natural gas trading community, but somehow she was able to make million dollar purchases of natural gas on credit, according to court papers.