Corruption Reporting Award: Honouring investigative journalism

Corruption Reporting Award: Honouring investigative journalism

For the third year Transparency International has sponsored the Corruption Reporting Award as part of the One World Media Awards. The award seeks to honour journalists who bring the abuses of entrusted power to light – because only when corruption is uncovered, can it be tackled. Through brave reporting and persistent investigations, journalists help in the fight against corruption. They are our allies.

One World Media received more than 20 riveting entries from which the judges made a short list of three: an exposé of a Kenya politician, the uncovering of a secret web of companies in the Democratic Republic of Congo and a documentary that detailed how millions of dollars were siphoned off by government officials during the sale of islands in the Maldives.

And the winner is…

Al Jazeera investigates: Stealing Paradise

Stealing Paradise is an unprecedented investigation into how international corruption is carried out at governmental level, focusing on the popular tourist islands of the Maldives.

Stealing Paradise shows how islands in the Maldives were sold off by the government with top officials pocketing bribes and facilitating money laundering.

Reporter Will Jordan, who began his career in journalism in the Maldives, was offered data from three mobile phones that used to belong to the country’s vice-president who is now in jail. From this and with the help of local journalists he pieced together a corruption scandal that showed how $80 million was stolen from the public purse and ended up in officials’ bank account from the sale of leases for building luxury resorts.

At one point, the former vice president ordered the police commissioner to “blast” a TV station, which was critical of the government. He also conspired with police to try to “light up” a government office housing 200 members of staff.

Just before the documentary was aired, the government took to state TV to warn journalists who were connected to report that they would face serious consequences. Jordan received death threats and others involved in the reporting fled the country.

On 13 June the only cable news channel in the Maldives, MediaNet, rebroadcast the documentary. Just two days later it was fined MVR500,000 (US$35,000) by the Broadcasting Commission, an indication that state organisations continue to persecute any involvement with the documentary. 

Runners Up

Anti-graft boss firm received NYS millions

by Kipchumba Some, The Sunday Nation, Kenya

The former chairman of Kenya’s Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC), Philip Kinisu, received lucrative contracts from government ministries and parastatal organisations that his agency was investigating.

The EACC is supposed to be an independent state institution charged with fighting graft and enforcing ethics in government. Kinisu was appointed by President Uhuru Kenyatta to chair the commission in December 2015. Less than a year later, when the article appeared, a parliamentary committee found that Kinisu had acted improperly and recommended to President Kenyatta to form a tribunal to probe him further. Rather than face the tribunal, Kinisu resigned in August 2016.

With His Family’s Fortune at Stake, President Kabila Digs In

by Michael Kavanagh, Thomas Wilson and Franz Wild, Bloomberg

After 18 months of meticulous investigations, the reporters showed how President Joseph Kabila and his relatives have built a network of businesses that reaches into every corner of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s economy. There are at least 70 companies registered under pseudonyms and shell companies that ultimately led to Kabila, his wife, his children and his siblings. Stepping down as president, in line with the country’s constitution, would have been an inconvenience. So Kabila tried to hang on to power.

The revelations of Kabila’s family network and the detailed infographics that showed how it worked produced a media storm and international protest late last year. People took to the streets to demand new elections. Finally Kabila's party and opposition leaders agreed to hold a vote in December 2017. 

Image: Will Jordan, Will Thorne & Christofilos Olivotos, with award presenter Robert Barrington - Image Credit: One World Media, Tori Ferenc

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