Charmian Gooch, co-founder of NGO Global Witness, investigates global corruption. After years of research, she has discovered the roots of corruption that keep poor countries poor. Money flows from corrupt business dealings with the assistance of international banks and ‘anonymous companies’ to disguise the nature of illegal transactions. Banks gain substantial profits by accepting the business of dodgy customers. Tax evaders, drug smugglers, arms dealers, and corrupt politicians don’t want to be linked to dirty money. So they create shell companies to hold and hide their assets.
Nigeria is a common example; it has experienced an oil boom for over 50 years, yet Nigerians remain amongst the world’s poorest people with 84% living on less than $2 a day. An estimated $400 billion has gone missing from Nigerian oil revenues. For instance, Royal Dutch Shell and Italian oil giant Eni paid the Nigerian government US$1.092 billion for a lucrative oil block: OPL245. This money was then paid to Malabu Oil and Gas (MOG), which owned the rights. MOG is a company owned secretly by Dan Etete, former Nigerian oil minister, who had illegally acquired this lucrative oil block, and still benefited from it.
Rich and poor countries alike are suffering from lost wealth due to lack of knowledge about who owns, controls and profits from companies and the resulting tax evasion and corruption that follow this secrecy. In a globalized world, there is a great need for a global transparency standard and for people to call on their governments to support it.
Charmian Gooch, “Meet Global Corruption’s Hidden Players,” TED Talks, June 2013, http://www.ted.com/talks/charmian_gooch_meet_global_corruption_s_hidden_players.
“Poverty, Corruption and Anonymous Companies,” Global Witness, March 2013, http://www.globalwitness.org/sites/default/files/library/anonymous_companies_03_2014.pdf.
Sahara Reporters, “How Ex-Nigerian Petroleum Minister Dan Etete Laundered Millions of Dollars,” Nigeriana.org, June 17, 2013, http://nigeriana.org/blog/nigeria/dan-etete.
“The Scandal of Nigerian Oil Block OPL 245,” Global Witness, November 25, 2103, http://www.globalwitness.org/library/scandal-nigerian-oil-block-opl-245.
Student Researcher: Thy Nguyen (San Francisco State University)
Faculty Evaluator: Kenn Burrows (San Francisco State University)