We see mafias as vast, powerful organisations, harvesting billions of dollars across the globe and wrapping their tentacles around everything from governance to finance. But is this the truth? Travelling from mafia initiation ceremonies in far-flung Russian cities to elite gambling clubs in downtown Macau, Federico Varese sets off in search of answers. Using wiretapped conversations, interviews and previously unpublished police records, he builds up a picture of the real men and women caught up in mafia life, showing their loves and fears, ambitions and disappointments, as well as their crimes.
The Spider’s Web’ is a documentary film that shows how Britain transformed from a colonial power into a global financial power. With a Q&A post-screening from the directors, find out how the City of London became the global leader in creating obscure, corrupt, secret offshore tax havens.
Perhaps a trillion dollars are stolen every year by the rulers of the world’s poorest countries. Hundreds of billions of those dollars find their way into the West, where they buy real estate, luxury goods, fine art, yachts and more. Less than a cent from every stolen dollar is ever returned to the peoples of the countries where the money was stolen. Kleptoscope 5 looks at this under-acknowledged economic catastrophe, and asks why it is so hard to recover assets stolen by kleptocrats. And what role does London play as both a safe haven for looted money, and a laundering centre for money being invested elsewhere?
Correspondent Seyi Rhodes and Director Kate Hardie-Buckley report from the set of the hit South Korean TV show that’s made defectors from North Korea into TV stars. More than 400 defectors have been interviewed on the show, and their stories chart the very latest about life under Kim Jong-un. For many South Koreans, it’s become a key source of information about their northern neighbour.
Kleptoscope returns with an evening focussed on Nigeria, a country criticised by former Prime Minister David Cameron as “fantastically corrupt”. Chaired by investigative journalist Oliver Bullough, a panel of experts will address the roots of Nigerian corruption, ask why so much of the stolen money ends up in London, and discuss why more isn’t being done to give it back.
In a series of dramatic events, former Gambian President Yahya Jammeh has headed into political exile, ending a 22-year authoritarian reign and a post-election political standoff that threatened to provoke a regional military intervention. President Adama Barrow has vowed to improve his country’s economy, free its political prisoners and create a commission to look into the brutal legacy of his predecessor. But is this really a new era for The Gambia? We will be joined by a panel of experts to discuss how Adama Barrow’s leadership could impact the country and the region.
After two successful Kleptoscope talks discussing the former Soviet Union and the Middle East, we come closer to home, with an exploration of Britain’s offshore tax havens. The Channel Islands, and the various overseas territories in the Caribbean and elsewhere pay host to huge capital flows, as well as untold thousands of shell companies, but are they are bad as they are painted?
We are delighted to present the second talk in our series of events investigating corruption and dirty money in London: interrogating its origins, its launderers and how it gets spent. Hosted by investigative journalist Oliver Bullough, Kleptoscope unites journalists, campaigners, academics and others to discuss the latest research into the UK’s role as an enabler of global kleptocracy.
“Three quarters of money looted in Russia comes to the UK.” The audience sat in stunned silence. Roman Borisovich continued, “there is an army of UK bankers, accountants, lawyers, trustees, and other professionals assisting Russian corruption.”
For the first event in a new series investigating corruption and dirty money in London – its origins, its launderers, and how it gets spent – we will be hearing three groundbreaking stories focusing on the former Soviet Union. We will discuss how Russian kleptocrats have used the services of the British capital to retain and launder their money; how London’s property market has become a piggy bank for the world’s corrupt elite; and how ex-Soviet businessmen have covertly funded MPs and parliamentary groups, gaining preferential treatment as a result.
As the Maldives sinks into an increasingly repressive regime under the helm of current President Abdulla Yameen, we will be joined by exiled former president Mohamed Nasheed, journalist and author of The Maldives: Islamic Republic, Tropical Autocracy JJ Robinson, and others, to discuss the current situation in this small yet turbulent archipelago. With at least 100 Maldivian jihadists now fighting in Syria and Iraq, a significant share of the country’s modest population, we will also discuss the increasing role of Islamism – as well as the implications for the wider South Asia region. We will explore hopes for the future and the role of an increasingly-repressed media in supporting an eventual transition to democracy – all as the impending threat of climate change on the low-lying islands continues to loom large.
Late one evening, investigative journalist Bastian Obermayer received an anonymous message offering him access to secret data. Through encrypted channels, he subsequently received documents revealing how the president of Argentina had sequestered millions of dollars of state money for private use. This was just the beginning – Obermayer and fellow Süddeutsche journalist Frederik Obermaier soon found themselves immersed in a secret world where complex networks of shell companies help the super-rich to hide their money.
We will be joined by Bastian Obermayer and Frederik Obermaier to hear the inside story of what Edward Snowden has called “the biggest leak in the history of data journalism.”
“They used to describe Tsarist Russia as monarchy moderated by assassination but now it seems to be total secrecy moderated by insane leaks.”
The London Press Club and the Frontline Club are pleased to welcome award-winning journalist and author of Frontier: Exploring the Top Ten Emerging Markets of Tomorrow, Gavin Serkin, in conversation with deputy chairman of the London Press Club, David Selves.
All attendees are welcome to join the London Press Club for drinks in the clubroom before and after the talk, with first drinks (from 6.30pm) courtesy of Gorkana. The evenings are an opportunity for young and old, experienced and students, from all aspects of media to mingle with each other – and those from the world of PR and business.
On the eve of a Downing Street summit aiming to challenge cross-border organised crime and corruption, we will be joined by OCCRP co-founder and editor Drew Sullivan and others to discuss how best to report on – and combat – transnational organised crime and corruption, with a particular focus on the London link and the recent Panama Papers leaks. We will be asking what the role of transparency and government data is in combating corruption, and what role journalism can play in putting a stop to it and bringing those accountable to justice.
UPDATE: Unfortunately, on account of legal challenges directed at the Frontline Club, this event will no longer include a screening of Bloody Money as originally advertised. The event will still be going ahead minus the screening – and promises to be a fascinating discussion on the wider issue of corruption in Ukraine featured three key experts in this field: presenter and journalist Oliver Bullough; executive director of Ukraine’s Anti-Corruption Action Centre, Daria Kaleniuk; and Shauna Leven, Global Witness’ Campaigns Director on corruption.
Zhanna is a self-made business woman who has made it to the top for all the wrong reasons. She is living happily and in love until she is jilted, which sets her on the course for revenge. This play is not only about love but also the ruthless business practices borne of 1990s opportunistic Russia and its gangster capitalism. Following the staged reading, the members’ clubroom will open its doors to all attendees in celebration of theatre week.
By Molly Fleming On Thursday 12 November, award-winning reporter Sandra Rodríguez Nieto spoke with author and journalist for the Observer and the Guardian Ed Vulliamy about life and death in Juarez, the Mexican murder capital of the world.
By Isabel Gonzalez-Prendergast On Monday 19 October, the Frontline Club was joined by a panel of experts to discuss the increasingly necessary journalism model of cross-border collaboration. Gavin MacFadyen, director of the Centre for Investigative Journalism and visiting professor at City University, moderated the event, which was held in partnership with the Romanian Cultural Centre in […]
When money, politics, abuse of power and corruption reach across borders, transnational networks of journalists become key to an open, accountable and democratic society. Cross-border investigations such as Swiss Leaks and Tobacco Underground have caused public outcry, and in many instances have led to legislative changes and the prosecution of those under investigation.
In an event in partnership with the Romanian Cultural Centre (RCC) and Frontline Club Bucharest, a panel of experts will be discussing what it takes to expose stories that spill across borders.
By Ratha Lehall On Friday 4 September, the Frontline Club hosted a screening of Cartel Land, a fearless and revealing documentary that portrays the violent influence of Mexican drug cartels and the vigilante groups fighting to end their reign of terror. The screening was followed by a Q&A with the film’s director Matthew Heineman.
This screening will be followed by a Q&A with director Joshua Oppenheimer via Skype.
In this multi-award winning companion piece to The Act of Killing, filmed before its release, Joshua Oppenheimer further explores the terrible legacy of the Indonesian genocide fifty years ago, this time through the lens of one family.
He’s a household name in Ghana, but few have seen his face. Investigative journalist Anas Aremewaw Anas is on a mission to ferret out corruption in every corner of his country. Despite his notoriety, Anas’ vigilante methods warrant criticism from some local police, who believe his investigations go too far in luring and catching suspected criminals to achieve sensationalist stories.
In this double Sundance winner, Matthew Heineman takes us deep into the world of Mexican drug cartels by embedding himself with two vigilante groups on either side of the US-Mexico border.
By Alexandra Sarabia On Wednesday 24 May, an audience gathered at the Frontline Club for a discussion on corruption and its far-reaching implications. Sarah Chayes and Tom Burgis joined freelance journalist and host of Newshour on the BBC World Service, Owen Bennett-Jones, to talk about their experiences in Africa, Afghanistan and beyond. Chayes is an expert on kleptocracy, anti-corruption […]
Across much of the world people face a daily battle with corruption. We will be joined by Sarah Chayes and Tom Burgis, whose investigations have taken them deep into the workings of corrupt systems across Africa, Afghanistan and elsewhere. From the local power brokers to the international corporations, they will be discussing what they discovered about how corrupt systems operate, the implications locally and globally, and what can be done to more effectively tackle them.
This screening will be followed by a Q&A with director Joey Boink.
Burden of Peace tells the impressive story of Claudia Paz y Paz, the first woman to lead the Public Prosecutor’s Office of Guatemala. Ravaged for years by a devastating civil war, in which nearly 200,000 Mayan Indians were systematically massacred, the country today is one of the most crime-ridden in the world. Paz y Paz starts a frontal attack against corruption, drug gangs and impunity and does what everyone had hitherto held to be impossible: she arrests former dictator Efraín Rios Montt on charges of genocide against the Mayan Indians.
By George Symonds “They are like my family.” “They’re just fucking monkeys.” On Thursday 15 May 2014, the Frontline Club screened Virunga, a masterful documentary that portrays both the highest of human empathy, and lowest of murderous greed in eastern DR Congo. Present for the Q&A were director Orlando von Einsiedel, producer Joanna Natasegara and investigative […]
By Elliott Goat Opening the debate organised by Standpoint magazine, which took place at the Frontline Club on May 1, Standpoint Editor Daniel Johnson began by restating the motion: This house believes that Britain is more interested in doing business with Russian Oligarchs than standing up to Vladimir Putin.
By George Symonds “We used to say health to the people. Now we say health to the rich only.” On Monday 3 February 2014, the Frontline Club screened the UK premier of Putin’s Olympic Dream. Director Hans Pool shone light onto the crooked nature of Putin’s very own “fake smile.” Behind the facade of the […]