Visualising corruption: Award-winning data journalism in Argentina

Visualising corruption: Award-winning data journalism in Argentina

The temptation for public officials to use their positions of power to accumulate wealth has always been there. The iconic picture of the luxury cars owned by Teodorin Obiang, eldest son of the autocratic president of Equatorial Guinea, being towed in Paris comes quickly to mind: how could he afford that on a salary of less than US$55,000 a year?

It is important but difficult to track the assets of those in power to see if their lifestyles are commensurate with their pay packages and not the result of corruption.

In Argentina, civil society teamed up with a national newspaper to develop an online tool that lets anyone do just that, based on the asset declarations of public servants.

Transparency International’s Argentine chapter, Poder Ciudadano, worked with two civil society groups, Fundación Directorio Legislativo and Asociación Civil por la Igualdad y la Justicia, as well as  La Nación, a national newspaper, to build a visual database that’s not only easy to use but provides people with a way to hold their officials to account.

It just won the 2014 Global Editors Network award for best data journalism application. And the great news is that the technology behind it is available to other organisations, all over the world, to build similar applications. So, spread the word by sharing this link.

How it works

Public officials in Argentina have to file asset declarations. These are publicly available but not easy to access or understand. Thirty volunteers, however, took all the data from 1,540 affidavits filed by more than 800 public officials and keyed them into a database that is searchable and presents the information in a visual format.

So now it is possible to create a picture of how people in office have accumulated assets over time and what they bought. Icons representing buildings, homes, cars, motor cycles, land and financial instruments represent the assets of the individuals. Ten little houses equal 10 homes, and if you roll the cursor over the icon, you can see exactly what each building is worth.

Civil society can now track the wealth of individuals in power. It can’t determine if someone has enriched themselves through corruption, but it can raise red flags.

This is an important tool for holding officials to account and a reminder that there will be scrutiny and difficult questions asked if a person’s wealth outstrips their salary.

After the first two interactive visualisations appeared on the website, the president of Argentina, Cristina Kirchner, announced that the government would promote a national law regarding asset declarations for all public servants. Unfortunately, the new law regulating public officials’ affidavits passed but it omits asset information of the children and spouses of public officials in future affidavits.

Civil society will continue to have to work hard to make sure this loophole is not used to disguise wealth amassed through corruption.

For any press enquiries please contact


Support Transparency International

Antoine Deltour: LuxLeaks whistleblower’s long legal battle continues

On Thursday 23 November, the High Court of Luxembourg will announce its verdict in the case of Antoine Deltour, the whistleblower who revealed aggressive tax avoidance schemes in Luxembourg by sharing the 'LuxLeaks' documents with journalists in 2014.

Open letter to the President of Equatorial Guinea: Ramon Esono Ebalé must be released

It has been two months since the artist and satirist Ramon Esono Ebalé was detained without charge in Equatorial Guinea. Transparency International joined with 17 organisations and individuals to write to President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo. We are calling for his immediate release.

Global Corruption Barometer: citizens’ voices from around the world

Transparency International believes that people’s experience and perceptions of corruption are key for understanding corruption risks around the world. Our Global Corruption Barometer is the world's largest survey asking citizens about their direct personal experience of corruption in their daily lives - check it out here!

How the Honduran military and police profit from the illegal arms trade

An investigation by InSight Crime and Transparency International Honduras has found that many of the guns used in homicides in Honduras come from Honduran military and police stockpiles.

#ParadisePapers: time to clean up the offshore financial havens

The ‘Paradise Papers’ show how the rich and powerful around the world are able to avoid paying tax and keep their business dealings secret. The mechanisms they use can also benefit the corrupt, and must be made more transparent.

Uzbekistan: How to support the real victims of grand corruption

What do you do when assets stolen from a country’s state coffers by corrupt individuals have been recovered and can now be returned to the country - but the government is still controlled by corrupt people? That’s the case of Uzbekistan, one of the most corrupt countries in the world.

Entrevista con testigo clave en el Caso Obiang: Delfin Mocache Massoko

En el 27 de octubre 2017, la justicia francesa ha condenado a Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, vicepresidente de Guinea Ecuatorial, a tres años de cárcel extentos de cumplimiento, una multa de 30 millones de euros (US$35 millones) y confiscó todos sus activos en Francia. Antes de que se anunciara el veredicto, entrevistamos a Delfin Mocache Massoko, un testigo clave en el caso, para descubrir qué significa el juicio para él y los ciudadanos de Guinea Ecuatorial.

Social Media

Follow us on Social Media

Would you like to know more?

Sign up to stay informed about corruption news and our work around the world