This is an interview with Paul Radu, co-founder and chief of innovation of the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) on the work they are doing to fight corruption. He describes how organized crime uses land assets to extend their criminal enterprises and discusses how open data on land can be a tool to fight land corruption.
As an investigative reporting platform for a worldwide network of independent media centers and journalists, OCCRP is reinventing investigative journalism as a public good. In the face of rising costs and growing threats to independent media, OCCRP provides media outlets and journalists with a range of critical resources and tools including digital and physical security and allows those covering the most sensitive topics to work in teams with trusted editors.
Paul Radu is co-founder and chief of innovation at OCCRP. He founded the organization in 2007 with Drew Sullivan. He leads OCCRP’s major investigative projects, scopes regional expansion, and develops new strategies and technology to expose organized crime and corruption across borders.
Paul initiated and led the award-winning Russian, Azerbaijani, and Troika Laundromat investigations, and coined the term “laundromat” to define large scale, all-purpose financial fraud vehicles that are used to launder billions of dollars. He is a co-creator of Investigative Dashboard — a research desk that sifts through datasets to help journalists trace people, companies, and assets — and the Visual Investigative Scenarios software, a tool that lets reporters sketch out the people, institutions, and connections in criminal networks so people can easily follow complex investigations. He is also a co-founder of RISE Project, a platform for investigative reporters in Romania.
Paul is an Ashoka Global Fellow and has held a number of other fellowships, including the Milena Jesenska Press Fellowship, the Rosalyn Carter Fellowship for Mental Health Journalism, the Knight International Journalism Fellowship with the International Center for Journalists as well as a 2009-2010 Stanford Knight Journalism Fellowship. He is a board member for the Global Investigative Journalism Network, a member of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, a member of the jury for the global Sigma Data Journalism Awards, and a member of the Allard Prize advisory board.
Paul is a winner of the Daniel Pearl Award, the Global Shining Light Award, the European Press Prize, and the Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship, and was part of the Panama Papers team that won the 2017 Pulitzer Prize in Journalism. He has also authored or contributed to handbooks and digital guides such as “Against Corruption: a collection of essays,” “The Data Journalism Handbook,” and “Follow the Money — A Digital Guide to Tracking Corruption.”