Paul Radu is building a platform for the hacker community to collaborate with investigative journalists to expose the most vile, dangerous, and bizarre global corruption you never knew existed. Paul is the executive director of the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP). And if you are in San Francisco tomorrow, Friday, April 27, Paul and OCCRP advising editor Drew Sullivan are speaking at a special free event, Hacking Corruption, hosted by Institute for the Future and Code for America. The evening will begin with an introduction and comments by Marina Gorbis, executive director of Institute for the Future, and Tim O'Reilly, founder and CEO of O'Reilly Media, Inc. For those who can't be there in person, Boing Boing is honored to share our forum with Paul so he can share his amazing, inspirational work with all of us. — David Pescovitz
The Investigative Dashboard: Hacking Crime and Corruption
by Paul Radu
One of the pioneers of globalization has been organized crime. Their illicit businesses form a $ 2 trillion plus global industry supported by the criminal services industry: the lawyers, hedge fund managers, business registration agents, bankers and others who help hide, legitimize and launder illegal profits.
But increasingly around the world, journalists and civil society organizations have taken notice and are fighting back.
A handful of researchers from the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project sit in front their computers in Sarajevo or Bucharest in Eastern Europe and assist investigative reporters from all over the world in untangling the complicated schemes used to hide the proceeds of the global drug trade or the stolen billions of corrupt dictators. This is the Investigative Dashboard (ID), the initial phase of a global research desk that gives journalists the tools and support needed to fight back.
The basis of most crime networks are simply businesses and bank accounts set up by the criminal services industry in a manner designed to be as opaque as possible. Using offshore accounts, proxies and seemingly unrelated businesses in many different jurisdictions, they move money around always staying steps ahead of slow moving law enforcement.
Cronies of the former Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak hid their billions of dollars in complex corporate structures that include companies in British Virgin Islands, Egypt, Switzerland, Spain, Panama, Azerbaijan and Romania. The family of Ilham Aliyev, the president of Azerbaijan, uses Panama and United Kingdom-based corporations to hide their ownership in mining, the telecom industry or the financial sector in their country. Organized crime groups such as the Mexican Sinaloa drug cartel use even more complex, multiple layered schemes to launder the proceeds of their violent crimes.
ID researchers comb every day through myriads of databases: national and international registrars of companies, online and offline court records and many others. The gathered data is fed back to the journalists and turned into investigative stories.
OCCRP and ID tell the public how their money is stolen and, more important, how to prevent the theft in the first place by being pro active. (more…)