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Global Anti-Corruption Consortium

Paul Radu, Co-Founder and Chief of Innovation, OCCRP

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OCCRP and Transparency International have successfully leveraged their global reach to spotlight grand corruption and demand change. With dozens of in-depth investigations published annually since its launch in 2016, the partnership has allowed us to push for policy change and legal action in a number of cases.

What's at stake?

Investigative journalists and civil society groups have a critical role to play documenting and proving grand corruption. While tycoons, corrupt officials and criminal networks are highly organised and coordinated in their attempts to profit and evade scrutiny, journalists and civil society have often worked in silos.

In an increasingly complex world, strategic alliances between anti-corruption actors are vital to meaningfully fight back against the global scourge of grand corruption.

The Global Anti-Corruption Consortium is a groundbreaking partnership that brings together investigative reporting from the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) and national and global advocacy driven by Transparency International.

What we're doing about it

Tackling grand corruption means exposing the systems that allow hundreds of billions of dollars to be siphoned off from natural resources and state funds; as well as addressing the ramifications for developing nations.

It means exposing the perpetrators, professional enablers and loopholes that facilitate the illicit flow of money; fighting for the key changes needed in developing countries held back as a result; and pushing for justice to ensure accountability, good governance and sustainable development.

The Global Anti-Corruption Consortium is guided by three broad thematic priorities: money laundering in the global web of Western financial systems; state capture; and natural resource exploitation through grand corruption.

Our approach

The global push for transparency has resulted in a world rich with data and banking records, allowing investigative journalists to connect the dots that expose corruption at the highest levels. Advocacy groups are in a position to package findings, campaign for change and engage with law enforcement to demand justice.

The Global Anti-Corruption Consortium connects Transparency International’s global anti- corruption movement with experienced networks of OCCRP’s investigative reporters across the world, including the Latin American Center for Investigative Journalism (CLIP) and Arab Reporters for Investigative Journalism (ARIJ) in the Middle East. Our partnership allows knowledge and evidence generated through OCCRP’s cross-border corruption investigations to inform and strengthen Transparency International’s anti-corruption policy and legal advocacy.

With a growing constellation of partners that bring distinct media, advocacy, tech and legal angles to bear, the Global Anti-Corruption Consortium is an inclusive partnership that aims to work with many collaborators.

Azerbaijani Laundromat investigation

OCCRP’s Azerbaijani Laundromat investigation revealed a US$2.9 billion money- laundering operation and slush fund run by Azerbaijan’s ruling elite. Run through four shell companies registered in the UK, with billions passing through Danske Bank – a major European financial institution that turned a blind eye – the money bought silence or praise from European politicians in influential human rights bodies, as well as from journalists and representatives of international organisations.

Over the same two-year period, the government imprisoned more than 90 human rights activists, opposition members and journalists on politically motivated charges.

Investigative journalists identified delegates of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) among the ultimate recipients of the laundered money.

Transparency International rallied public pressure, presented European and national policymakers with evidence of reputation laundering and advocated for an independent investigation into allegations of corruption at the PACE. Resignations at the highest levels of the PACE followed almost immediately. A year later, PACE’s independent external investigation found numerous breaches of codes of conduct and, in some cases, corrupt activities.

A year ago, a massive leak of bank records showed that the ruling elite of #Azerbaijan ran a US$2.9B slush fund and an international $$ laundering scheme. At the heart of the scandal was @PACE_News. Has justice been served after the Azerbaijani #Laundromat? — Transparency Int'l (@anticorruption) 01 October 2018

Transparency International continues to call for criminal investigations in individual countries, for the prosecution of those who allegedly took bribes from the Laundromat, and for a permanent investigative body within PACE.

The Azerbaijani Laundromat also provided evidence for the full accountability of Western financial institutions facilitating these schemes, and tougher EU-wide anti-money laundering supervision.

European Golden Visas

OCCRP’s Gold for Visas investigations illustrated rampant sale of EU citizenship and residency to the ultra-rich with few checks.

When Transparency International first started scrutinising European investment migration schemes –known as ‘golden visas’ – it was not common to see these as a threat to global anti-corruption efforts. Isolated corruption stories in individual countries were casually dismissed by governments that were benefiting from the substantial revenues these schemes were raising.

New investigation from @OCCRP & @Guardian shows #Cyprus’s #GoldenVisas scheme is the main avenue for wealthy businessmen to get EU passports. Occasionally individuals charged with corruption will also slip in. > — Transparency Int'l (@anticorruption) 04 March 2018

Armed with cases across the continent, Transparency International and Global Witness have campaigned to curb the unacceptable risks in these schemes.

EU institutions have since echoed civil society concerns and begun work to harmonise national rules, while governments are increasingly under pressure to modify their risky schemes. The anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing bodies have also addressed the risks posed to their efforts by golden visas with specific policy changes.

The Great Gambia Heist

Yahya Jammeh ruled The Gambia for 22 long years. The Great Gambia Heist investigations exposed how he and his cronies allegedly looted government funds, draining state-owned enterprises, the country’s pension fund and natural resources.

In 2019, OCCRP documented the previously unknown scale of grand corruption under Jammeh. Acting with impunity, his government looted the country’s assets, committed egregious human rights violations and passed repressive laws to disempower citizens.

A sadly familiar pattern emerged, involving Western professional enablers and foreign companies facilitating Jammeh’s theft of public monies out of The Gambia.

On the heel of these investigations, Transparency International and local civil society group Gambia Participates engaged with communities through an innovative ‘participatory video’ filmmaking technique. The resulting film contains stories that serve as testimonies to the human cost of corruption and to people’s perseverance.

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The Global Anti-Corruption Consortium is currently supported by the governments of Denmark and the United States and the Open Society Foundations. Governments of Argentina, Australia and Norway also supported the Consortium previously.