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ANCIR is an association of Africa’s best muckraking / investigative newsrooms. We do not accept individual reporters as members. We rather work to empower newsrooms to be better places for investigative reporters to work.
ANCIR strengthens newsrooms builds the backend forensic tools and digital platforms that investigative newsrooms need to unravel complex organised crime and illicit finance networks. This technology was previously only available to national and corporate intelligence agencies. We give it to the media, to help track crime and money across borders.
We build technologies … but our real focus is journalism. Here are some examples of some of the transnational stories that ANCIR has produced during these new digital tools and transnational investigation models. This slide showcases our collaboration with IRPI in Italy, where we tracked and mapped the Italian mafia’s hidden empire of diamond mines, banks, property and other assets across Africa. This story is a great example of ANCIR’s techniques for using frontline reporters to collect evidence, backed-up by some of the world’s best thematic specialists to help analyse and make sense of all the information.
Here’s an example of a data-driven story, where ANCIR helped ICIJ in the US ‘liberate’ and analyse key datasets that shows that the World Bank ignored its own rules for compensating communities who lose their home / lands to make way for infrastructure like dams, roads, etc. The evidence supporting the work was so compelling that the World Bank president publicly conceded the abuses and launched a series of internal investigations. This story demonstrates the potential for using ANCIR’s investigative technologists on your investigations.
Here’s a 3rd story example. The story, which built off the Oakland Institute’s work, helped unravel what is considered to be Africa’s biggest ponzi scheme yet: $120m scammed from pensioners across the world by a criminal who used a network of 30 shell companies and 10 offshore financial conduits to create a false investment scheme.
The story is an excellent example of how ANCIR uses free open source intelligence tools and information to unravel hidden networks.
Here’s a 4th story: ANCIR is using all three the previous techniques we discussed to decode the hidden web of ownership of offshore oil rigs in Nigeria, which are short-paying $10-billion in tax every single year. That money could have major impacts on the quality of life for 10s of millions of ordinary Nigerians. The project allows readers to mine the data, tracking whatever individual company they’re most interested in. This is a good example of how ANCIR’s data techniques help audiences personalise big investigative stories.
As a final example, here’s a 5th project: in Mozambique we’ve used information that has been right in front of journalists for decades -- the Government Gazette -- to extract detailed information that helps both journalists and researchers track exactly what companies own the country’s mineral wealth (through mining concessions) and who the actual people are who own those companies. The resulting digital tool is the most detailed and accurate record yet of the extractive sector in Mozambique. The project has worked so well that we are replicating it in Angola, Namibia, Ghana, Kenya, and Zimbabwe.
But, ANCIR doesn’t just produce technologies and showcase investigations. It also creates or underwrites toolkits and manuals so that others can copy our techniques. This includes the world’s benchmark resources on everything from the Verification Handbook on how to use social media data for investigations, to partnerships with organisations like OpenOil where we helped liberate and digitise every single oil concession contract in Africa as a searchable database for journalists and human rights organisations.
ANCIR’s inhouse investigative laboratory, the iLAB, is a pool of global experts that include former prosecutors and forensic economists, as well as forensic auditors, digital security experts, data analysts, and other researchers who have deep knowledge that the media usually does not have access to. The iLAB is available to work with newsrooms, to help them plan & research investigations, as well as to help edit and fact-check the results. The calibre of the experts and the level of support has never previously been available to African media. ANCIR believes that the iLAB will help keep journalists out of jail.