Why we invested: Finance Uncovered
The scale of grand corruption, kleptocracy, and corporate tax abuse across the world is huge: according to the International Monetary Fund, the global cost of bribery alone amounts to about two percent of the world’s gross domestic product (GDP), between $1.5 to $2 trillion. Illicit finance’s contribution to perpetuating high levels of inequality and poverty cannot be overstated. The UN recently wrote of corruption’s contribution to instability and poverty and its role as a dominant factor driving fragile countries towards state failure. Furthermore, many aspects of environmental crime and human trafficking are linked to and disguised by illicit financial flows via offshore tax havens and secrecy jurisdictions. How to even begin to tackle these challenges?
One avenue is through investigative journalism in the public interest. However, there are sometimes significant technical and capacity issues that inhibit the ability of investigative journalists to do their work. Journalists often need guidance and methodologies to better understand the history, size, and scale of the offshore world, to piece together complex financial investigations, and to tell illicit finance stories in a compelling way so that broader audiences are reached and engaged.
Enter Finance Uncovered, a small team of journalists committed to addressing these gaps. Finance Uncovered’s mission is to deliver intensive and focused training courses that equip journalists with the fundamental skills, tools, and confidence to start investigating corruption, money laundering, and tax abuse. Once participants complete the training, the organisation supports them to produce engagingly written stories by project managing collaborations and/or working closely with individual journalists.
Finance Uncovered’s mission is to deliver intensive and focused training courses that equip journalists with the fundamental skills, tools, and confidence to start investigating corruption, money laundering, and tax abuse.
Since 2013, Finance Uncovered has trained 323 journalists and campaigners from 92 countries – including many members of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and the Organized Crime & Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP). The team recently returned from Jakarta where, as a key member of the Money Trail consortium, they delivered a course to 30 Asian journalists and activists. Further trainings are scheduled this year in Abuja and London.
Finance Uncovered’s trainees and staff have worked on some of the biggest follow-the-money exposés in recent years, including #GuptaLeaks, #PanamaPapers, #ParadisePapers, #DubaiLeaks, Nigeria’s OPL 245 oil scandal (#ShellKnew), the MTN scandal, and more. Very recent collaborations include:
- Finance Uncovered worked with colleagues in India to reveal the high-end location of a fugitive arms dealer, as well as his connections to a shell company.
- A story that the Finance Uncovered team co-authored – Langer Heinrich dodged N$219 million tax – prompted the public admission by the Namibia treasury that it was investigating this and similar deals.
- Its series on capital gains tax avoidance in four countries including this one in Germany – How to make billions with TV cables - almost tax-free – prompted Oxfam Novib to package up the stories into a published report.
- Finance Uncovered edited, with the writer, an article that exposed outrageous corruption in Bangladesh’s state-owned gas distribution company.
By attracting the attention of both the public and law enforcement / other officials, Finance Uncovered increases the likelihood that these stories will lead to reputational, legal, and political consequences: assets recovered, criminals caught and held accountable, and policy change.
We are excited to support Finance Uncovered with a core grant of $500,000 to enable them to build on their great track record so far, as well as to expand their work. We look forward to seeing what they uncover next.