Tracking corruption across international lines

London Investigathon zoned in on international money laundering

In an era of growing globalization but decreasing journalistic capacity, some of the best international reporting comes through collaboration.

Enter the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP). Founded in 2007, the OCCRP connects investigative journalism nonprofits and for-profit media in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. Working together, journalists from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Latvia, Hungary and more countries mine the rich vein of corruption that runs through their countries, gathering and analyzing data and publishing hard-hitting reports.

Among their accomplishments: Offshore Crime, which showed the creative use of offshore accounts by politicians and criminals to avoid taxes, trade in weapons and drugs, and launder money; and Tobacco Underground, which reported on the lucrative trade in smuggled tobacco. Along the way, the OCCRP has scooped up numerous awards, including the Global Network of Investigative Journalists Global Shining Light Award and the Overseas Press Club Award.

On November 12, in New York City, OCCRP along with Google Ideas will sponsor an “Investigathon” that will bring together some 100 reporters, programmers and researchers in a day-long exploration of how to track down property owned by organized crime and controversial politicians. Imagine what they could have done with Al Capone.

The Investigathon follows on the heels of another successful day-long event in London last July co-sponsored by Google Ideas. Speakers included Eliot Higgins, the investigative blogger known as Brown Moses, who told those gathered how he’d managed to track weapons in Syria and the Ukraine, as well as Google research expert Dan Russell and Columbia Journalism professor Susan Mcgregor. Participants spent the afternoon working with financial datasets to try to track down money transfers. Now they are continuing their work in a six-month project tracing money laundering taking place in London.

We hope to be there in November. A global world requires global investigations.