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Investigations such as the Panama Papers or OCCRP’s Russian Laundromat typically involve thousands or millions of documents from multiple sources, as well as various networks of individuals who are participating in setting up offshore accounts or other ways to hide wealth. So how can journalists begin to track the origin and journey of hidden money?
In this post on IJNet, Stella Roque shares tips from investigative reporters on uncovering looted wealth, from a session during the 2017 Global Investigative Journalism Conference.
They advise using local and national sources and cross-referencing information with sources outside of the country you are investigating, pointing out that once someone starts spending money abroad, various records of their spending can be obtained, such as court and property records.
They also recommend using social media and talking to people who can help you track the lifestyle of the person you are looking into, like architects and other contractors.