At CiFAR, our goal is not only to support the civil society organisations to work better and more collaboratively across borders, but also to build broad-based coalitions of all members of civil society to fight against public asset theft and for the recovery of stolen assets.
Starting in April 2016 the Panama Papers have and are exposing how hundreds of politicians and other public figures are systematically using offshore companies to avoid paying taxes on their wealth. The same schemes are used by corrupt officials and private persons to channel and launder billions in assets stolen from public bank accounts or obtained through other criminal activities.
It was the impressive work of investigative journalists – coordinated by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists – that made this happen. At the same time, the debate has been led by the mostly European and North American newspapers. It has been the work of investigative journalists in the UK, France, Spain and Germany, amongst others, that has put pressure on governments and driven change.
While this has been positive, the perspective of these stories has been northern and, except for a few examples, voices from elsewhere have been much less prominent. This risks not only losing the perspective of people from states losing assets, but also focuses attention primarily on the receiving states, reducing pressure for reform on those where public officials have or are stealing state assets.
What we’re doing
Our work with investigative journalists focuses particularly on early-career journalists and aims to support them to develop their expertise in investigating and reporting on cases of grand corruption and the processes for returning that money. We further help them to develop stories and to pitch and publish these in leading news outlets.
We launched our fifth regional Investigate program in December 2023, focusing on East and Southern Africa. The project aims to support journalists from East & Southern Africa and Europe to develop cross-country and cross-regional stories looking at illicit financial flows.
We launched our latest Investigate program in October 2022, focusing on Madagascar. The project was designed in collaboration with Transparency International – Initiative Madagascar to train and mentor journalists of the investigation network, MALINA. Enabling journalists to work independently, MALINA regularly trains its members on various topics around the fight against corruption and promotes effective collaborative journalism.
In May 2021, we launched the third instalment of our “Investigate” training series, this time targeting francophone and anglophone journalists from West Africa and Europe. In partnership with the investigative center CENOZO, based in Burkina Faso, we trained and mentored a cohort of 30 journalists to develop and publish their own financial investigations.
Investigate the Western Balkans, Western Europe and North Africa brought together journalists from three regions to support them through training and mentoring to report on grand corruption and asset recovery.
Starting in July 2017, Investigate the Mediterranean aimed to support a new generation of investigative journalists to understand how they can investigate cross-border corruption and to give them the tools to do so.
Investigate hosts stories written through our projects and as a result of the investigations by groups of early-career journalists that we work with, resources for journalists and information on our programmes and trainees.
Investigate – The Manual
Investigate – The Manual is designed in order to provide readers with an overview of state of the art practices in investigative journalism, with a focus on illicit financial flows and asset recovery. It is the result of over three years of collaboration between CiFAR and civil society organizations specialized in various fields of expertise relevant to the practice of journalism, beginning with the launch of our first training and mentoring program Investigate the Meditarranean in 2017
If you are an investigative journalist who would like to get in touch with us, please do so using the contact form or email us at info(at)cifar.eu.