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Journalists get skills in illicit finance reporting

By Carol Kasujja

Added 8th October 2019 01:53 PM

Oxfam together with Finance Uncovered, Tax Justice Network Africa and Money trail, decided to equip journalists with understanding and skills in reporting on illicit finance in order for them to produce stories that will combat the vice.

Journalists get skills in illicit finance reporting

Some of the journalists and civil society organization members during the training. (Photo by Carol Kasujja)

Oxfam together with Finance Uncovered, Tax Justice Network Africa and Money trail, decided to equip journalists with understanding and skills in reporting on illicit finance in order for them to produce stories that will combat the vice.

MEDIA           JOURNALISM

Several Investigative journalists from across Africa last week participated in a five-day training workshop on reporting illicit financial flows and tax abuse in Nairobi.

Oxfam together with Finance Uncovered, Tax Justice Network Africa and Money trail, decided to equip journalists with understanding and skills in reporting on illicit finance in order for them to produce stories that will combat the vice.

The workshops cover investigative journalism, tax inequality, how corporations work, interpreting cooperate accounts, investment treaties, money laundering, corruption, and tax avoidance.

"Countries throughout the world lose billions of dollars through tax abuse, money laundering, and grand corruption. Investigative journalism is key to combat this. Brilliant reporting by journalists and some notable civil society organizations has resulted in revenue authorities and enforcement agencies recovering desperately needed funds," said Nick Mathiason, the director of finance uncovered.

Mathiason noted that usually the big companies' journalists deal with have the money, power, and influence as well as control over information, so they need to be with understanding and knowledge of figures to be able to expose them.

 

 

"The need to curb illicit outflows is urgent if you want to do a good story, look closely at the accounts. What is causing the low profits, and also look out for loans, royalty and fee payments? A low tax rate could mean a company is getting a lot of tax breaks and can also mean other things," noted Mathiason.

Seven years ago, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa established a High-Level Panel on Illicit Financial Flows which found that over the last 50 years, "Africa is estimated to have lost in excess of $1 trillion in illicit financial flows." Currently, Africa is estimated to be losing more than $50 billion each year.

"There is so much money flowing out of Africa that could be controlled by the governments and used to reduce inequality by providing better health service and education. In order to curb illicit financial flows, African governments could review their existing bilateral tax and trade agreements, as companies can abuse these to minimize their tax payments," said Paul Groenewegen, a project manager at Money Trail.

Channels for the illegal flows are commercial criminal and corrupt activities investment-related transactions and offshore tax havens.

Most journalists in Uganda, Kenya, Nigeria, and Ghana said that the training has been essential in helping them to succeed with their stories but they feared for their lives.

"We want to expose these companies engaged in illicit finances but these are people who have the money and can take away your life if you expose them. We need security tips too," said Sudhir Byaruhanga, a Ugandan journalist.

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