Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project The Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project
), founded in 2006, is a consortium of investigative centers, media and journalists operating in Eastern Europe
, the Caucasus
, Central Asia and Central America. OCCRP is an investigative reporting organization that specializes in organized crime
. It publishes its stories through local media and in English and Russian through its website. In 2017, NGO Advisor ranked it 69th in the world in their annual list of the 500 best non-governmental organizations (NGO).
Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project
OCCRP was an early practitioner of collaborative, cross-border investigative journalism by non-profit journalism
organizations, an approach that is gaining recognition in the United States and now Europe.
It is a partner of the Arab Reporters for Investigative Journalism
(ARIJ) in Jordan, Connectas in Colombia
, the African Network of Centers for Investigative Reporting
in South Africa, InsightCrime
in Colombia, and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists
(ICIJ) in Washington.
It has worked with hundreds of news organizations including The Guardian
, Financial Times
, Le Soir
, the BBC
, Time magazine
, Al Jazeera
and other major media.
The project has been involved in a number of high-profile investigations, including looking at the offshore services industry, organized crime ownership in football clubs, casinos and the security industry.
In 2013, it broke new ground on the Magnitsky
case, the largest tax fraud in Russian history, and demonstrated that funds stolen from the Russian treasury ended up in a company now owned by the son of Moscow's former transportation minister. Some of the money was used to buy high-end real estate near Wall Street.
US prosecutors have since sought to seize $18 million in property from the company.
Working with SVT
Swedish Television and the TT News Agency
, it uncovered that the Swedish/Finnish Telecom giant TeliaSonera (now Telia
and other phone companies had paid about $1 billion in bribes to companies controlled by Gulnara Karimova
, daughter of Uzbekistan's president Islam Karimov
. More than $800 million in assets were seized or frozen by law enforcement after the scandal. Vimpelcom paid a $775 million fine for their part in the bribes. The story won numerous international awards.
It investigated an assassination attempt on a Russian banker which led the Moldovan government to ban the pro-Russian Patria political party from the 2014 elections and the party's leader to flee the country.
It also looked at a massive money laundering
scheme, the Russian Laundromat
, that moved tens of billions of dollars into Europe using offshore companies, fake loans and bribed Moldovan judges. Some of the Russian banks involved were owned in part by Igor Putin
, a cousin of Russian President Vladimir Putin
Its stories on Montenegro
's long-time President and Prime Minister Milo Đukanović
led to street demonstrations, calls for his removal and intense scrutiny by the European Union
of its membership applications. Two series looked at the ties between Đukanović and organized crime. One series traced the President's family-owned bank, Prva Banka
(First Bank), and how the president privatized it to his brother cheaply, moved massive state funds into the bank and then loaned the money out to his family, friends and organized crime on overly favorable terms. When the bank failed under the weight of these bad loans, the president bailed it out with taxpayer money. The Central Bank said the government lied about repaying the loan[which?]
simply shuttling funds back and forth and claiming the loan was repaid.
A second series examined how the president through his staff kept close relationships to international drug traffickers like Darko Saric [de]
, and that municipalities controlled by the president's party gave prime coastal property almost for free to the Saric. It also showed how the Italian mafia
was smuggling cigarettes
to Italy from an island off the coast of Montenegro
owned by his[whose?]
good friend Stanko Subotic
and controlled by his[whose?]
head of security.
Drew Sullivan said that Philippines
President Rodrigo Duterte
"has made a mockery of rule of law in his country. While he is not your typical corrupt leader, he has empowered corruption in an innovative way. His death squads have allegedly focused on criminals but, in fact, are less discriminating. He has empowered a bully-run system of survival of the fiercest. In the end, the Philippines are more corrupt, more cruel, and less democratic."
Person of the Year Award
Since 2012, OCCRP has dedicated the Person of the Year Award
that "recognizes the individual or institution that has done the most to advance organized criminal activity and corruption in the world".
- 2012 – Ilham Aliyev, President of Azerbaijan – Other mentions: Naser Kelmendi, Milo Đukanović, Vladimir Putin, Miroslav Mišković, Islam Karimov, Darko Saric [de]
- 2013 – Parliament of Romania – Other mentions: Darko Šarić, Gulnara Karimova
- 2014 – Vladimir Putin, President of the Russian Federation – Other mentions: Viktor Orbán, Milo Đukanović
- 2015 – Milo Đukanović, Prime Minister of Montenegro – Other mentions: First Family of Azerbaijan, Nikola Gruevski
- 2016 – Nicolás Maduro, President of Venezuela – Other mentions: Rodrigo Duterte, Bashar al-Assad, ISIL/ISIS, Raúl Castro/Luis Alberto Rodríguez, Vladimir Putin
- 2017 – Rodrigo Duterte, President of the Philippines – Other mentions: Jacob Zuma, Robert Mugabe
- 2018 – Danske Bank, for the money laundering scandal
- 2019 – Joseph Muscat, for the flourishing of criminality and corruption under his leadership as Prime Minister of Malta
- 2020 – Jair Bolsonaro, President of Brazil, for "surrounding himself with corrupt figures, using propaganda to promote his populist agenda, undermining the justice system, and waging a destructive war against the Amazon region that has enriched some of the country’s worst land owners." – Other mentions: President of the United States Donald Trump, President of Turkey Recep Erdoğan, and Ihor Kolomoyskyi
The website of the organization provides daily updates about alleged instances of corruption and organized crime around the world, which reach 6 million readers every month.
OCCRP's goal is to help the people of the world understand how organized crime and corruption resides in their countries and in their governments.
The organization does not belong to any country, political philosophy or set of beliefs other than that all people should be allowed to choose their own governments and lead their own lives in safety, liberty and opportunity.
Its reporters and editors come from dozens of countries.
OCCRP's mission statement says, "Our world is increasingly polarized. The world’ media channels are rife with propaganda
and simply wrong information. We must all strive to understand how our increasingly complex society works. We must be able to find the truth to make the kinds of decisions we need to. We are committed in our small way to telling the truth the best we can."
OCCRP has become one of the world's largest investigative reporting organizations, generating more than 60 cross-border investigations per year.
The OCCRP Network websites inform more than 6 million readers and viewers every month, and 200 million other readers and viewers have access through legacy media which publish its work.
The ever-widening impact of OCCRP stories demonstrates that when enough people possess the right kind of information they can bring about the right kind of change.
The organization also trains reporters and partners in advanced journalism techniques, builds practical, high-use tools used to improve the efficiency of reporting and publishing and is actively reinventing investigative journalism
to be more interactive, more effective, more impactful and relevant to readers.
In November 2020, OCCRP stated that since 2011 its actions had led to:
- US$7.3 billion in fines levied and assets seized by government agencies
- 423 government actions
- 171 civil actions
- 95 corporate actions
- 317 official investigations
- 510 arrests, indictments, or sentences
- 53 resignations or sackings of key figures, including a President, Prime Minister and CEOs of major international corporations
Member centers include the Center for Investigative Reporting (Bosnia and Herzegovina)
(CIN) in Sarajevo
, the RISE Project
in Bucharest, the Centar za istraživačko novinarstvo - Serbia (CINS)
, Investigative Journalists of Armenia (HETQ
, the Bulgarian Investigative Journalism Center
, Átlátszó.hu [hu]
, The Czech Center for Investigative Reporting
and RISE Moldova
among others. It is also partnered with Novaya Gazeta
and the Kyiv Post
. New member centers were added to the OCCRP Network between 2015 and 2016, including the Investigative Reporting Project Italy (IRPI), Direkt36
in Hungary, Slidstvo.Info in Ukraine, and DOSSIER in Austria.
Since 2017 OCCRP has expanded to Africa, Middle East, and Central Asia. The first Central Asian member of OCCRP is Kloop
in Kyrgyzstan.
Its parent organization is the Journalism Development Network, a Maryland-based non-profit organization which operates the organization on behalf of the member centers. Romanian journalist Paul Cristian Radu
is the executive director and American Drew Sullivan is the project's editor.
Funding and Partnerships
OCCRP is a registered name of the Journalism Development Network, a Maryland-based charitable organization (501(c)3).
Awards and recognition
OCCRP won the 2015 European Press Prize Special Award for its work, with the judges saying "the OCCRP is a memorably motivated, determined force for good everywhere it operates. Its members do not get rich, but the societies they serve are richer and cleaner for the scrutiny only true, independent journalism can provide." 
Journalist Khadija Ismayilova
OCCRP and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
journalist Khadija Ismayilova
, based in Baku
was blackmailed by an unknown party with video captured in her bedroom using a camera installed in the wall. The camera was planted two days after OCCRP/RFERL published a story by Ismayilova about the presidential family in Azerbaijan and how it secretly owned Azerfon
, a mobile phone company with a monopoly 3G license.
A note threatened to show the videos if Ismayilova did not "behave". She went public about the threats and the videos were shown on at least two websites. Ismayilova said that "the evidence shows that the government agencies were involved in the crime and prosecutor’s office fails to act as an independent investigative body".
After this incident, Ismayilova published articles showing that the first family also owned shares in six major goldfields
and they owned one of the construction companies that built the new showcase Crystal Hall
auditorium in Baku, the site of the 2012 Eurovision Song Contest
. She was detained by state prosecutors in December 2014 on charges that she incited a fellow journalist to commit suicide by denying him a chance to return to his job at Radio Free Europe
, despite the fact that she had no hiring authority. The journalist later retracted his statements on his Facebook page and attempted to flee to Moscow. The arrest was criticized around the world by dozens of governments, media and civil society organizations.
OCCRP started the Khadija Project, an investigative reporting effort to continue Ismayilova's work.
Editor Drew Sullivan, when initiating the project, said if governments arrest one investigative reporter, twenty would take their place. They vowed to look at the political elite in Azerbaijan and how they have materially benefited from their high positions. OCCRP did more than a dozen major investigations including some using the Panama Papers
. OCCRP found the First Family of Azerbaijan had more than $140 million in high end London Property, owned a large percentage of the luxury hotel and banking businesses in Baku, had received more than $1 billion in bribes from telecom companies and other stories.
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Last edited on 21 April 2021, at 09:56
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