OCCRP 2013 End of Year Letter

Dear friend of OCCRP,

The year 2013 is drawing to a close and if we had known last January what we know today, we would have been both delighted and deeply afraid. It's been an amazing year of successes, tribulations, lawsuits, awards, threats and constant great reporting. But thank God it's over, making this is a good time to recap.

OCCRP Deplores Violence Against OCCRP Reporter

OCCRP deplores the use of violence by supporters of the government of Ukraine against Hromadske.TV and OCCRP reporter Dmytro Gnap.  Gnap was beaten up by what Hromadske.TV said were paid provocateurs near Mariinsky Park in Central Kyiv.  Gnap and fellow journalist Yakiv Lyubchych were attacked and Gnap’s camera was broken and his memory card taken.

OCCRP Investigative Reporter Receives Knight International Journalism Award

Roman Anin, an Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project and Novaya Gazeta reporter, received the Knight International Journalism Award last night at a ceremony in Washington D.C.

The Knight International Journalism Award is presented by the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ) and recognizes “media professionals who demonstrate a passionate commitment to excellent reporting that makes a difference in the lives of people around the world.”


OCCRP's New and Improved Investigative Dashboard Is Here

Business_registryFrom corrupt business takeovers to horsemeat scandals, investigative reporters worldwide are using the Investigative Dashboard with award-winning results. The Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) rolled out the new and improved Investigative Dashboard at the Google Ideas Summit in New York, showcasing the platform's abilities and ambitions in ways that will "take public records to a whole new level," says Google.

OCCRP Supports Transparency in Montenegro

In July 2012, MANS (Network for Affirmation of  NGO Sector) asked for records from Montenegro’s business registry on behalf of the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP).  It took more than one year to get a response, and when it came, it simply said that the files were no longer available in the registry.

OCCRP and ICFJ Extend Partnership

usaidBucharest/Sarajevo – The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has extended a core grant that supports the Journalism Development Network, a leading innovator in journalism and journalism development in new democracies.  USAID’s three year extension provides support for a regional network of independent centers and promotes cross border investigative reporting.  The International Center for Journalism (ICFJ) and JDN are partners on the grant that supports the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), an award winning consortium of 18 investigative centers and news organizations.  OCCRP, working with its partner organizations publishes in-depth investigative stories on organized crime and corruption issues.  It has won numerous international awards for its work and this year is a finalist for the Daniel Pearl Award, a double finalist for the Global Shining Light award, and winners with the Center for Investigative Reporting (CIN) of the SEEMO investigative reporting award.

Columbia honors OCCRP partner in Georgia

Studio Monitori and OCCRP partner Nanka Naskidashvili has been awarded the Josh Friedman Prize for the best investigative journalism story in the Republic of Georgia.

Press Release: OCCRP Files Motion to Dismiss Lawsuit

Press Release

February 28, 2013

On Wednesday, the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) filed a motion to dismiss a lawsuit filed against it by Maxim Stepanov, a Russian national who is the owner of Midland Consult, a Cyprus based company registration firm that was mentioned in the Proxy Platform series.

OCCRP stands by its story and will aggressively defend itself in the litigation.

Based primarily on public records, OCCRP reported that Midland Consult registered a number of businesses that allegedly have since been used by organized crime, and that it, in some circumstances,   appointed proxy directors of those companies.  These companies allegedly have been used for criminal activities including hiding the proceeds of the Magnitsky tax scandal that led to the death of Russian lawyer Sergey Magnitsky.   Midland Consult, whose representative was quoted in OCCRP’s reports, argues that it is not responsible for the activities of the companies it registers.

OCCRP believes that there is absolutely no basis to this lawsuit and considers this harassment for having told an unpleasant truth. Knowingly or unknowingly, Midland Consult’s business activities helped alleged criminals hide their activities.   It is common business practice for a director of a company to take responsibility for the actions of their company. Why should that not apply to proxy directors?

Company registration agents, lawyers, bankers, hedge fund operators and other businesses have long been part of the criminal services industry, the “legitimate” businesses that have empowered organized crime by providing services that help them launder money, evade taxes and hide ownership in offshore companies.

OCCRP is asking important questions.  Banks now are required to know their customers to prevent money laundering.  Why shouldn’t registration agents?   Shouldn’t they know whether the companies they set up are being used to perpetrate massive fraud?  Shouldn’t they be required to identify the real owners if such fraud exists?

Novaya Pravda Fabricated OCCRP Director's Bio

OCCRP would like to register its concern regarding a newspaper article that appeared this month on the website of a media organization called Novaya Pravda. This article purports to be about OCCRP Executive Director Paul Radu. However, the article is completely fabricated and bears no resemblance either to Radu or OCCRP.

The article makes a number of fanciful claims, including one that Radu hacked Iranian nuclear plants. The publication, which appears to be new, did not contact Radu, OCCRP or any of its numerous reporters, members or peer organizations for comment.  OCCRP concludes that it was planted by persons seeking harm to Radu and OCCRP.

“It is common for many publications to accept cash payments to run stories. It is also common for organized crime and corrupt political parties of their functionaries to start media publications.  This publication is clearly neither serious nor credible,” said Drew Sullivan, Editor of OCCRP.

OCCRP, which reports on organized crime and corruption, has in the past frequently undergone media attacks from unscrupulous publications.

OCCRP is an internationally recognized news organization that regularly works with the BBC, The Guardian, Time Magazine, Al Jazeera and dozens of other international media.  It has been recognized by its peers with numerous international prizes including the Daniel Pearl award and the Global Shining Light.  Paul Radu, in addition, is highly respected as a journalist and trainer, and has been awarded, among many prizes, the Knight International Award and the IRE award for investigative reporting.

“In the world we work in, populated with organized crime figures and malevolent autocracies, this is clearly designed to make Paul’s life more difficult and dangerous.  But most readers are smart and will stay away from deliberate misinformation and the bad publications that peddle it,” said Sullivan.


Montenegro Paper Wrong about OCCRP

Pobjeda, a government-owned and controlled newspaper in Montenegro, published a series of stories in July 2012 regarding OCCRP and its editor Drew Sullivan.  These stories appeared in the days following publication of OCCRP’s project First Family, First Bank about the bank owned by Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic. 

The Pobjeda stories are near complete fabrications and highly libelous.  The primary source for the stories was Senad Pecanin, formerly the owner and editor of Dani Magazine, who has a history of privately motivated attacks on Sullivan.  These stem from a time when Sullivan worked as a media development specialist and cut off funding for Pecanin’s publication. One of the stories published by Pobjeda was a reprint of a Dani article.

OCCRP understands that certain media and media owners in the region are prone to unethical behavior and poor professional standards. Publications are frequently subject to misuse by their owners for personal or political attacks.  Both the Pobjeda and Dani stories on OCCRP and its editor are examples of such misuse.

OCCRP is an internationally recognized, award winning organization that must meet the highest standards of quality and transparency demanded by international donors. OCCRP is very familiar with media in the region, its ties to political parties and organized crime, and expects such attacks. We will continue to meet and refute all unfair attacks against our credibility.