DARK HAVENS: Confronting Hidden Money & Power

Disruption Network Lab #15 Dark Havens April 2019

#DNL15 DARK HAVENS brings together people from around the world who have been part of global investigations and leaks, have blown the whistle on corporations, been put on trial, and who have taken severe personal risks to confront hidden money and power.

Frederik Obermaier talks Panama Papers, crime & cocktails at Dark Havens

Frederik Obermaier joins me in the Transit Lounge to talk global crime & collaborative reporting, the demise of the ‘lone wolf’ investigative journalist, Panama Papers cocktails, writing that email to Vladimir Putin, and a thank you message to John/Jane Doe for the 11.5 million files contained in the Panama Papers.

Tax Havens + Investigative Journalism + Collaboration + Panama Papers + #DNL15

RYBN talk art, algorithmic investment and offshore tourism at Dark Havens

RYBN walk us through the Offshore Tour Operator to explore local traces of the transnational and liquid financial industry, and introduce classic tax avoidance schemes the Double Irish, Singapore Sling, Bermuda Black hole and Dutch Sandwich. A situationist GPS prototype for psychogeographic drift encourages you to create concrete visual representations of the opaque and offshore, reshaping the imaginary around tax havens.

Tax Haven Tourism + Algorithmic Investment + Psychogeography + Art as Financial Optimiser + #DNL15

Nicholas Shaxson talks power, money & the finance curse at Dark Havens

Nicholas Shaxson unveils the secrets of the seriously, filthy rich and talks me through how many of the world’s offshore tax havens are not only tropical islands, but actually British & OECD territories. Just what effect does that shadowy ‘spider web’ network of wealth extraction have on our societies? How are offshore tax havens central to the global economy? What is the finance curse? Listen to find out more!

Tax Havens + Treasure Islands + Finance Curse + Tax Justice Network + #DNL15

Stéphanie Gibaud talks whistleblowers & tax justice at Dark Havens

Stéphanie Gibaud joins me in the Transit Lounge to talk about becoming a spy for the French authorities, the impact on her life and ongoing search for justice after blowing the whistle on tax fraud at UBS.

Tax Havens + UBS + Whistleblowers + Tax Justice + #DNL15

VIDEOS: Dark Havens explores the inner mechanisms of the financial system, and the crime, corruption and wrongdoing hidden by secretive offshore companies.


Anti-corruption Journalists and Whistleblowers Facing Violence and Persecution

Pelin Ünker (Freelance Journalist, Member of ICIJ.org, TR) Stéphanie Gibaud (UBS Whistleblower, FR) Khadija Ismayilova (Investigative journalist and Radio Host, AZ – on video), Moderated by Michael Hornsby (Communications Officer, Transparency International, UK/DE).

Introduced by the video: Daphne Caruana Galizia. Anti-Corruption Award Winner 2018 (Transparency International, directed by David Velduque, produced by Neurads). This panel focuses on the personal impact of investigative journalism, truth-telling, and whistleblowing in the context of exposing offshore corruption and tax havens. The aim is to cover the work of courageous women who are suffering the consequences of their activities in the field of anti-corruption, paying with their life, direct threats, travel bans, and limitations to work.

The panel is introduced by the video “Daphne Caruana Galizia. Anti-Corruption Award Winner 2018”, an interview with Paul Caruana Galizia, son of Daphne Caruana Galizia, the investigative journalist from Malta who was assassinated on October 16, 2017, when a bomb placed under the seat of her car exploded. Daphne Caruana Galizia uncovered a thread of hidden connections linking major multinational deals, passport sales, and global money-laundering operations, leading her investigation to the heart of Malta’s government. Journalist Pelin Ünker presents the story of her reporting on the then Prime Minister’s connections to corporations in Malta, as revealed in the Paradise Papers. She currently faces trial and a prison sentence in Turkey.

Stéphanie Gibaud, a whistleblower from France, tells her story of revealing tax evasion and tax fraud by the investment bank UBS.

Finally, the panel shows a video contribution by Khadija Ismayilova, the Azerbaijani investigative journalist and radio host well known for her reports on corruption in Azerbaijan, who faces 3.5 years in probation, a two-year ban on professional activity, a travel ban and other restrictions, after being imprisoned in December 2014. The panel is moderated by Michael Hornsby, communications officer at Transparency International.


How the Global Shadow Economy Drives Inequality

Nicholas Shaxson (Journalist, author of Treasure Islands, and Finance Curse, UK/DE), Maira Martini (Senior Policy Advisor, Transparency International, BR/DE). Moderated by Simon Shuster (Reporter for TIME, RU/DE). This panel introduces the topic of offshore secrecy and tax havens bringing together two experts of the field. Nicholas Shaxson will refer to his book Treasure Islands: Dirty Money, Tax Havens and the Men Who Stole Your Cash, where he describes the connections between global economic affairs since slavery and secretive offshore tax havens. In his analysis, dirty money, tax havens and the offshore system contributed to generate global inequalities and shift of wealth from poor to rich, as well as undermining our democracies via financial deregulations. Maìra Martini will describe the schemes connecting shell companies, multiple offshore bank accounts, and money laundering, by referring to her work at Transparency International on a report on the role of banks in cross-border corruption cases.

PANAMA PAPERS: How the Rich and the Powerful Hide Their Money

Frederik Obermaier (Investigative Journalist, Süddeutsche Zeitung, DE). Moderated by Max Heywood (Transparency International Global Outreach and Advocacy Coordinator, UK/DE). The Panama Papers began with a cryptic message from an anonymous whistleblower. “Hello, this is John Doe,” the source wrote. “Interested in data?” In the months that followed, the confidential source transferred emails, client data and scanned letters, from Mossack Fonseca, a notorious Panamanian law firm that has not only helped prime ministers, kings and presidents hide their money, but has also provided services to dictators, drug cartels, Mafia clans, fraudsters, weapons dealers, and regimes like North Korea or Iran. After the revelation several heads of governments had to step down, thousands of investigations were launched, approximately one billion $ recouped. The Panama Papers proved that there is a whole parallel world offshore in which the rich and powerful enjoy the freedom to avoid not just taxes but all kinds of laws they find inconvenient. In this Keynote, Süddeutsche Zeitung investigative journalist Frederik Obermaier will reflect on the Panama Papers and their impact (arrests, changes in legislation etc.), as well as focus on the crucial roles of whistleblowers and the need to protect them. Furthermore, in conversation with Max Heywood, the dialogue will address what we learnt from The Panama Papers about political and economic power, which progress has been made against tax and dark havens, as well as how the Panama Papers have changed the way journalists think about and analyse tax havens.

+ Screening: The Panama Papers (Directed by Alex Winter, USA, Oct 2018, 94 min).


RYBN.ORG (Extra-disciplinary Artistic Research Platform, FR) Moderated by Ela Kagel (Digital Strategist and Founder of SUPERMARKT Berlin, DE) RYBN presents the “The Great Offshore” project, an artistic investigation conducted in several tax havens. The Great Offshore addresses the question of representation of offshore finance: due to its opaque nature and the secrecy that surrounds it, it is impossible to picture. The symbolic representations that are usually in use are, as many invitations to evasion, filled by colonial images of exotic islands, of palm trees beaches and golden sands, infinite walls of numbered mailboxes, that contribute to the aestheticisation of financial power. In a similar fashion, as Alain Deneault underlines it, the vocabulary in use to describe offshore finance is not neutral, and produces a positive, technical, legal and legitimate picture, that neutralizes critics. As a consequence, either within semantics or semiotics, we face a representation crisis. To overcome this representation failure, The Great Offshore project seeks for traces of this transnational and liquid financial industry, to capture how it marks local landscapes, architectures and environments. The Great Offshore project aims to reshape the imaginary around tax havens, by re-engaging with the situationist strategies of psycho-geography, enhanced by digital and algorithmic means. During the talk, RYBN will unfold the different chapters that composed the project and its artistic, semiotic and political dimensions.

+ Workshop/Psycho-Geographic Tourof Berlin shell companies & shadow finance offices with RYBN.org.

“LEAKING MASSIVE DATASETS: Security, Openness & Collective Mobilisation”

Ryan Gallagher (Investigative Reporter & Editor, The Intercept, UK). Friedrich Lindenberg (Data Team Lead, OCCRP, Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, DE). Moderated by Tatiana Bazzichelli (Director, Disruption Network Lab, IT/DE). This panel aims to pose issues of security and openness related to the analysis of data leaks and strategies of indexing data, to journalists, technical experts, researchers, and the larger civic society. In the case of the Panama Papers (April 2016) 11.5 million financial and legal records were leaked in 2015 from the Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca; those were followed by the Bahamas Leaks (September 2016), where 1.3 million internal company register files were leaked; later, the Paradise Papers (November 2017) were a set of 13.4 million leaked confidential electronic documents about offshore investments. This huge amount of information was all leaked to the Süddeutsche Zeitung reporters Frederik Obermaier and Bastian Obermayer, who shared it with the Washington-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) who coordinated a worldwide investigation. Ryan Gallagher (The Intercept) and Friedrich Lindenberg (Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, OCCRP) will discuss the ethics of massive data leaks, security and secrecy vs. openness and transparency, as well as source protection and collective mobilisation in the analysis of the material.

  • Artistic Director and Curator: Tatiana Bazzichelli
  • Community Director: Lieke Ploeger
  • Programme Managers: Daniela Silvestrin, Nada Bakr, Monti Harmony
  • Credits: Disruption Network Lab Berlin
  • Video by Rofsofilms
  • Graphic: Jonas Frankki
  • CC Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International

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