OCCRP and Partners Make 2017 European Press Prize Shortlist

Published: 03 March 2017

By Stella Roque

Reporters and partners of The Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) have been shortlisted for the 2017 European Press Prize, announced this week by the prize's preparatory committee, chaired by Peter Preston.

OCCRP reporters and their network partners, the Center for Investigative Journalism of Serbia (CINS), Budapest-based Atlatszo.hu, and 15min.lt investigative editor Sarunas Cerniauskas made the cut for a variety of investigative stories and major projects.

The nominations are testament to their in-depth investigative reporting and impact, including their work on the Panama Papers, a project kicked off by Süddeutsche Zeitung (SZ) and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ).

The preparatory committee nominated the Panama Papers for 'The Investigative Reporting Award' for "causing ructions right round the globe, the highest salience of the year.” The year-long work revealed assets political leaders, football players and business moguls had long kept hidden offshore, leading to a series of investigations, prosecutions and government resignations.

In the same category, CINS was nominated for a series of corruption and organized crime stories from Serbia. CINS spent eight months sending more than 200 Freedom of Information Act requests to conduct extensive research on the Serbian judiciary, discovering failings in the country's justice system and the fight against organized crime and corruption, which Serbian officials often boast of success.

“A testimony to the work of really good, really digging reporters serving their community,” the preparatory committee commented on CINS work in Serbia.

Atlatszo.hu was nominated in 'The Innovation Award' category for its “extremely well-researched and well written" reporting which monitored European Union (EU)-funded projects in Hungary. The project included the creation of an interactive map and database developed by Atalatszo.hu so anyone can learn how and where the funds are spent. However, it also shows if specific political affiliation grants any advantage when applying for EU funds.

Also for 'The Investigative Reporting Award,' Investigative editor Sarunas Cerniauskas of OCCRP's Lithuanian partner 15min.lt was nominated as part of a team of journalists across several European countries investigating the misuse of EU funds through Messerschmidt’s foundations, now undergoing investigation by the EU anti-fraud unit, OLAF. The preparatory committee also lauded the stories as "a brilliant example of how traditional, thorough journalism can disclose hypocrisy and by presenting facts to the public change the political agenda."

The award ceremony will be held Apr. 20 in De Balie, Amsterdam, according to the prize's website.