The broad outlines of the Lebanon blast's cause is known—3000 tons of impounded ammonium nitrate neglected in a warehouse for years after the unseaworthy ship transporting it docked in Beirut. But the details are harder to nail down. The Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project traces the individuals, companies and connections behind the MV Rhosus and its devastating cargo.
The new revelations show how, at almost every stage, the Rhosus' deadly shipment was connected to actors who used opaque offshore structures and lax government oversight to work in the shadows.
The revelations also expose the particular dangers posed by the lack of transparency in the maritime shipping industry, according to Helen Sampson, the director of Cardiff University's Seafarers International Research Centre.
The findings "highlight all the weaknesses of the [maritime shipping] system and how they can be exploited by those who want to exploit them," Sampson said.