Gao, Mali: Photography by C4ADS

Organized Crime and Grand Corruption Cell


The Sentry: Conflict Financing
Environmental Crimes Fusion Cell
Special Projects

Organized Crime and Grand Corruption Cell

Corrupt business and political elites as well as transnational criminal organizations use global systems of finance, trade, and logistics to generate and launder funds, park assets in safe jurisdictions, and otherwise perpetuate their illicit activities.

The Organized Crime and Grand Corruption cell seeks to map the networks engaging in these activities through collection and analysis of public records and collaboration with local partners. Current focus areas include: asset flight in Latin America, forced labor in Southeast Asia, and money laundering in Eastern Europe.


April 25, 2019

Russia has a long history of using its control over European energy supplies to achieve political aims, and this “energy weapon” has become famous as a blunt instrument. According to the dominant image of Russia’s energy diplomacy, if states diverge from Russian foreign policy aims, the gas will be cut off in the dead of winter—as it was in Ukraine.

But in reality, the energy weapon is much more subtle, and much more effective at undermining Western states. The Russian government has learned to use energy to cultivate politically important relationships in consumer countries. At the same time, Russia uses its tools of asymmetric influence, including political interference and disinformation, in furtherance of its energy goals. This multi-faceted toolkit gives Russian policymakers more avenues to pursue their policy aims in the West, something missed when Russia’s energy diplomacy is thought of exclusively in terms of gas and oil cutoffs.



December 28, 2018

In the spring of 2016, as the Russian-domiciled First Czech Russian Bank (FCRB) approached insolvency, staff worked feverishly to erase ledgers, destroy documents, and conceal evidence of the bank’s activity over the previous 9 years.

These documents, had they survived, would have revealed the details of a litany of questionable activities: financial support for Iran; use of the bank as a vehicle for money laundering by corrupt elites on a massive scale through the Russian Laudromat, a money laundering scheme identified by Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP); support for sanctioned organized crime figures; and most alarming of all, Russian state-sanctioned interference in the Western political system in the form of a 9.4 million euro loan to the National Front, a far-right French political party.



August 2, 2018

North Korean overseas forced labor is both a proliferation finance and a human rights issue. The Kim regime sends citizens to work abroad under heavy surveillance, confiscates their wages, and uses the funds to support a nuclear program and domestic economy dependent on foreign currency. Previous research on the topic has relied heavily on anecdotal reporting and focused principally on either human rights abuses or workers in low-skilled occupations. Few reports have considered high-skilled labor in the context of North Korea's labor export program, and while some investigations have connected individual labor operations to North Korea's broader illicit portfolio, no previous studies have attempted to do so at scale across multiple industries and jurisdictions. This report extends our proven methodologies for tracking North Korea's proliferation networks to the financial relationships of people and companies that facilitate its labor export program.



February 5, 2016

Conditions for Muslims have steadily declined in Myanmar, with the Rohingya Muslims of Rakhine State facing the gravest threat. In 2012, the country was rocked by the worst sectarian violence in over 50 years, resulting in 200 killed and 140,000 displaced, mostly Rohingya. A 2015 study by the United States Holocaust Museum counted 19 early warning signs of genocide in Myanmar since the start of sectarian violence. Another study by the International State Crime Initiative concluded that the Rohingyas had already passed the first four stages of genocide, including dehumanization and segregation, and are now on the verge of mass annihilation. Anti-Muslim sentiment has grown so widespread that even Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) party declined to field a single Muslim among their roster of 1,100 candidates for the November 2015 elections.


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