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Offshore Latin America: investigative journalists confronting illicit financial flows

September 27th, 2019

During the IV Meeting with journalists on illicit financial flows, participants from six countries in the region learned how IFFs were mobilized and what mechanisms facilitate them.

For the fourth consecutive year, the Latin American Network for Economic and Social Justice (Latindadd) organized the “Meeting with journalists on illicit financial flows”. This year’s event was focused on analyzing how the mechanisms of financial flows affect the economic crisis situation of many countries, mainly in Latin America.

Taking place on September 20 and 21 in Buenos Aires, Argentina, the seminar explored how the problem of Illicit Financial Flows (IFFs) represent an “Offshore route of the economic crisis”, and established points of contact between investigative journalism and social activism. It benefitted from expertise of investigative journalists involved in the Panama Papers and FTC members’ contributions.

The journalists Emilia Delfino, Claudia Ocaranza and Suchit Chávez presented investigations that they have carried out in recent months with the objective of unraveling the use of tax havens, ghost companies, offshore companies and other mechanisms that facilitate tax fraud and the flow of IFFs. They participated in the “Investigations of journalists on illicit financial flows” panel and agreed upon how difficult it is to define the limit between illegal and illicit when addressing IFF´s investigations.

Suchit Chávez speaking during the journalists’ meeting

In the case of the researchers, Humberto Campodónico presented a study on the manipulation of transfer prices in the export of gold in Peru, while Andres Arauz did the same with a study on banking and the facilitation of mechanisms of IFFs.

Civil society representatives discussed what IFFs are and how they can be calculated. FTC members Tax Justice Network Africa (TJNA) and Global Financial Integrity (GFI) (presented by Alvin Mosioma, TJNA and Lakshmi Kumar, GFI) set out a framework to conceptualize the contested conceptuatlisation IFFs.This provided international perspectives on the issue and enabled participants to understand in more depth how IFFs function and what are the mechanisms that facilitate them.

On the final day, initiatives from civil society were the focus for the attendees. Latindadd executive director Carlos Bedoya presented the new web channel www.nuestramerica.tv, a digital platform that has two programs: Dissidents, with political and economic interviews; and DisputaEconómica, a weekly newsletter that gathers the opinions and analysis of Latindadd members and allies.

Veronica Grondona, of FTC member Tax Justice Network, presenting on structures of IFFs

The “E da sua conta” podcast was also presented, by Daniela Stefano, describing how this initiative, working with the support of the Tax Justice Network, is focused on analyzing accessibly the problem of taxation, targeting Portuguese-speaking communities. It is part of the growing family of TJN podcasts that now include English, Spanish and Arabic-language editions. Tomas Lukin and Adrian Falco of Fundacion-SES presented the “Latin America Offshore” digital platform, an initiative of the FTC that seeks to be an open registry of Latin American beneficiaries that own companies in British territories.

This activity, conducted by Latindadd with FTC partners, contributes to the work of the FTC’s Southern Regions Programme, led by FTC’s members drawn from across the Global South.

List of participants

The journalists Emilia Delfino, from the newspaper profile (Argentina) participated in this edition; Rafael Rey, of the Sputnik Agency (Uruguay); Claudia Ocaranza, from Mexico Leaks and Poder (Mexico); Suchit Chávez de Connectas (El Salvador); Jeremías Bustillos of La Tribuna (Honduras); Francisco Pérez de Otra Mirada – Radio Capital (Peru); Daniela Stefano of podcast E gives her account (Brazil; and Verónica Insausti de Telesur (Peru).

On behalf of civil society, Carlos Bedoya, Luis Moreno and Omar Olivares of Latindadd participated; Adrian Falco, Tomás Lukin and Esteban Serrani of the Ses Foundation (Argentina); Inés Barboza of the Global Alliance for Tax Justice; Verónica Grondona (Argentina), of Tax Justice Network; Matti Kohonen (Finland) of Christian Aid; Lakshmi Kumar (India) of Global Financial Integrity; Alvin Mosioma (Kenya), Tax Justice Network Africa; Mae Buenaventura (Philippines), Asia People Movement on Debt and Development; the researchers Humberto Campodónico (Peru), DESCO; Andrés Arauz (Ecuador), UNAM; and the director of the Financial Transparency Coalition (FTC), Sargon Nissan.

This meeting was organized by Latindadd, the Regional and Financial Integration for Development Program of the SES Foundation and the FTC, and was also supported by 11.11.11; CAFOD; CCFD; and CNCD.

 

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