Making Transparency Possible: An Interdisciplinary Dialogue

Volume editors:
Roy Krøvel, Mona Thowsen
Chapter authors:
Frian Aarsnes, Mahima Achuthan, Kristine Aghalaryan, William Bourdon, Behlül Çalışkan, Lina Chawaf, Antoine Deltour, Elisabeth Eide, Ingrid Fadnes, Raphaël Halet, Birgitte Kjos Fonn, Johannes Kr. Kristjansson, Roy Krøvel, Amélie Lefebvre, Simona Levi, Craig McKune, Karl Ove Moene, Ryan Powell, Jenik Radon, Nandini Ravichandran, Anya Schiffrin, Tina Søreide, Mona Thowsen, Petter Slaatrem Titland, Rodrigo Véliz Estrada


Each year local and national economies throughout the world lose billions of dollars through so-called illicit financial flows. Conservative estimates indicate that over a billion dollars are diverted illegitimately out of countries in the Southern Hemisphere every year. This diversion of revenue reinforces poverty while facilitating the concentration of authority in the hands a select few through corruption and abuse of power. The authors’ objective with this book is to increase transparency in finance and global financial transactions.

Understanding the phenomenon of illicit financial flows requires input from several disciplines including law, finance and economics, and much of what is known about illicit financial flows is thanks to whistleblowers and investigative journalists. This anthology highlights journalism about illicit, global financial activity from an interdisciplinary perspective. In conveying the experiences of whistleblowers and investigative journalists who have been involved with the Panama Papers, Paradise Papers, Lux Leaks and Swiss Leaks, the contributing authors underscore the need for journalism students to also learn the basics of economics, finance and law if they are to be able to carry out investigative projects in an increasingly more globalized economy.

In the first part of the book, investigative journalists describe their work to expose corruption and capital flight, and whistleblowers in some of the most significant cases tell their stories, while lawyers and accountants explain what needs to be done at the legislative level. In the second half of the book, analyses of revelations of corruption and illegitimate financial flows are presented. The authors explore themes including the value of investigative journalism, new journalistic methods, inadequate protections for whistleblowers and the education of investigative journalists.

This book will be of interest to anyone concerned about illicit financial flows, but especially to journalists, journalism students and journalism instructors seeking an understanding of what it takes to reveal the mechanisms behind illicit, global flows of wealth.


Hvert år tappes lokalsamfunn og stater over hele verden for milliarder av kroner på grunn av såkalt illegitim finansflyt. Forsiktige anslag indikerer at 10 milliarder kroner blir ført illegitimt ut av land i Sør hvert år. Skjulte finansstrømmer forsterker fattigdom samtidig som det legger til rette for at noen få holder seg ved makten gjennom korrupsjon og maktmisbruk. Forfatterne av denne boka ønsker å bidra til mer åpenhet om finans og globale finanstransaksjoner.

For å forstå fenomenet illegetim finansflyt er det nødvendig med innspill fra flere fagfelt, som jus, finans og økonomi. Mye av det vi vet om skjulte finansstrømmer, vet vi takket være varslere og gravende journalister. Denne boka kaster lys over journalistikk om skjulte, globale finansstrømmer fra ulike fagdisiplinære perspektiv. Gjennom å lære av historiene til varslere og gravende journalister som har arbeidet med blant annet Panama Papers, Paradise Papers, Lux Leaks og Swiss Leaks, viser forfatterne at journaliststudenter bør lære mer om både økonomi, finans og jus dersom de skal kunne gjennomføre graveprosjekter i en stadig mer global økonomi.

I første del av boka forteller gravende journalister om arbeidet for å avsløre korrupsjon og finansflukt. Varslere i noen av de mest kjente sakene forteller sin historie, mens advokater og revisorer forklarer hva som må gjøres med lovverket. Den andre delen av boka består av analyser av korrupsjonsavsløringer og illegitim finansflyt. Forfatterne belyser tema som verdien av gravejournalistikk, nye journalistiske metoder, mangelfull beskyttelse av varslere og utdanning av gravejournalister.

Denne boka passer for alle som er interesserte i illegitim finansflyt, men passer spesielt for journalister, journaliststudenter og journalistikklærere som ønsker å forstå hva som trengs for å avdekke mekanismene i skjulte, globale finansstrømmer.


Author Biographies

Frian Aarsnes

Frian Aarsnes is an international tax expert with experience from more than 30 countries. Aarsnes worked at an international audit firm for six years, at a major global oil and gas provider for 10 years on international tax issues, and in international consulting for 13 years on, among other things, fiscal design and fiscal mechanism analysis.

Mahima Achuthan

Mahima Achuthan is an oil/gas/mining transactional, regulatory and policy advisory professional whose key focus has been on corporate responsibility, environmental and social risk management (ESRM), business and human rights, stakeholder management, grievance mechanisms, anti-corruption and beneficial ownership disclosure. She has practiced with a boutique law firm in New York and is a part-time lecturer at the School of Public and International Affairs, Columbia University, where she advises graduate student consultancies on ESRM for clients in the private sector. Achuthan has a B.A. from the University of California, Berkeley, a J.D. from the University of Minnesota, Law School, an MA. from Columbia University and is a member of the New York Bar.

Kristine Aghalaryan

Kristine Aghalaryan has been working for Investigative Journalists NGO of Armenia (which publishes since 2008. She has participated in global and international projects such as the Panama Papers and Paradise Papers. One of her stories on the Panama Papers revelations was awarded an “Observer: Investigative Reportage” prize (2016, Armenia). Aghalaryan is interested in cross-border investigations and environmental topics. Her investigations have also been published by the OCCRP and other international platforms.

William Bourdon

William Bourdon, a member of the Paris Bar since 1980, is a founding partner of the law firm Bourdon & Associés. His main areas of practice are criminal business law, economic criminal law and international criminal 316 law. From 1995 to 2000, Bourdon was Secretary-General of the Federation internationale des droits de l’homme (Human Rights International Federation). In 2001, he founded the SHERPA Association which seeks to bring international financial and environmental criminals to justice and secure reparation for their victims. He has been a key speaker at international conferences and written several articles and books on issues of international justice, public law and penal law, financial crime, terrorism, freedom of expression, international public law, money laundering, ecological crimes, the statute of whistleblowers, and human rights, including La Cour pénale internationale, Le Statut de Rome (International Criminal Court, The Rome Statute), Editions du Seuil, 2000; Face aux crimes du marché – Quelles armes juridiques pour les citoyens? (Facing Economic Crimes – What Legal Tools for Citizens?), Editions La Découverte, 2009; Petit Manuel de Désobéissance citoyenne, Editions Lattès, 2014; and Les dérives de l'état d'urgence (The Abuse of the State of Emergency), Editions Plon, 2017.

Behlül Çalışkan

Behlül Çalışkan completed his PhD in journalism at the University of Marmara in Turkey. In his academic work, he has mostly focused on theoretical and empirical studies on media, communication and culture in Turkey. He is currently working at the University of Macedonia in Greece as visiting researcher.

Lina Chawaf

Lina Chawaf has been a journalist since 1992. Chawaf has written articles for newspapers (Baladna in Syria, Almoustakbal in Canada) and magazines (Shabablek and Sabaya in Syria), and established two radio stations in Syria, Arabesque and Mussika. She has been a program manager of Arabesque radio for seven years, where she has also hosted a radio program for the past two years. In addition, Chawaf works as a TV reporter (for Orient TV); has produced TV commercials and many TV clips for Unicef; is a media consultant with IMS; and works in educating journalists. Chawaf is currently establishing a new Syrian radio station (Rozana) in Paris with funding from several European organizations. Chawaf was the recipient of Reporters Without Borders’ 2018 Press Freedom Award.

Antoine Deltour

Antoine Deltour was the main whistleblower behind the Luxembourg Leaks case. The former auditor at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) in Luxembourg copied a large number of documents about a system allowing multinational firms to avoid paying taxes. Their disclosure by the ICIJ in 2014 fostered several initiatives for better tax justice. Despite this, Deltour was charged and convicted in Luxembourg. In 2018, after a lengthy judiciary battle, he received whistleblower status as defined by the European Court of Human Rights.

Elisabeth Eide

Elisabeth Eide is a professor of journalism studies at OsloMet – Oslo Metropolitan University, and Director of the Journalism and Media International Center (JMIC). Eide has also worked as a journalist, and has published a large number of anthologies, monographs and articles, among them two on surveillance and the Snowden revelations.

Ingrid Fadnes

Ingrid Fadnes is a journalist and researcher connected to the Media, War and Conflict research group at Oslo Metropolitan University. Fadnes was a member of the organizing committee of the Safety of Journalists conference 2017 and 2018.

Raphaël Halet

Raphaël Halet is a photographer by training. From 2006 to 2015, he worked for PwC Luxembourg in the back office. In 2012, he was appalled to discover, thanks to a TV documentary, that he had participated against his will in a tax avoidance scheme. By denouncing it, he became a whistleblower and was sued by his employer despite their commitment not to do so. Sentenced to nine months jail and a €1,000 fine, he appealed the judgment on 29 June 2016. Currently writing a book on the Lux Leaks case, he now leads a fight for more transparency, tax fairness and protection of whistleblowers.

Birgitte Kjos Fonn

Birgitte Kjos Fonn is an associate professor of journalism and media studies at Oslo Metropolitan University.  Fonn holds a PhD in History and an MSc in Sociology from the University of Oslo, and an MSc in “The Politics of the World Economy” from the London School of Economics. Fonn has a background as a journalist, and her primary research interests are economic journalism and media history. Fonn is also Editor of the refereed Mediehistorisk Tidsskrift (Norwegian Journal of Media History).

Johannes Kr. Kristjansson

Johannes Kr. Kristjansson is an Emmy-nominated, Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist whose work on the Panama Papers resulted in the 2016 resignation of the prime minister of Iceland. Kristjansson founded his own media company, Reykjavik Media, in 2015. He also co-founded and is a board member of the Icelandic Center for Investigative Journalism and has lectured on investigative journalism at events throughout the world. From 2005 to 2009 Kristjansson was the editor-in-chief of “Kompas”, a weekly investigative news program on Channel 2. He also worked as an investigative reporter for “Kastljos”, a daily news program at RUV, the state television station in Iceland. Kristjansson has been honored for investigations into black market gun trade, sexual abuse of minors, government corruption, and more. He was made an ICIJ member in 2016.

Roy Krøvel

Roy Krøvel is a professor of journalism at OsloMet – Oslo Metropolitan University and coordinates the research project Making Transparency Possible financed by The Research Council of Norway. He also heads the research group Media, War and Conflict at Oslo Metropolitan University. Krøvel is a civil engineer and holds a PhD in History.

Amélie Lefebvre

Amélie Lefebvre is a lawyer at the Paris Bar and a partner at Bourdon & Associés. She previously worked at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) for two years. She holds a Master’s Degree in International Law (University Paris I Panthéon Sorbonne, 2008) and a Master in Laws Degree from Trinity College, Dublin (2009). Lefebvre practices primarily in the areas of international criminal law, extradition law, general criminal law, economic criminal law and family law. She has participated at conferences on financial transparency, accountability and recovering illicitly gained assets through international cooperation, and she regularly gives classes in international criminal law to executive auditors at the Ecole Nationale d’Administration.

Simona Levi

Simona Levi is a theatre director, playwright, activist and technopolitical strategist born in Italy and naturalized Spanish. She is a prominent activist in European social movements supporting the free circulation of knowledge, culture and information, e-democracy, strategic use of digital tools for organization,  communication, collective action and the struggle against corruption. Founder of the digital rights organization Xnet and co-creator of the anti-corruption device 15MpaRato that jailed 15 politicians and bankers in Spain, in 2017 Rolling Stone magazine chose Levi as one of the 25 people in the world who are shaping the future.

Craig McKune

Craig McKune has worked as an investigative journalist in South Africa for ten years. Most of that time was spent  with the non-profit amaBhungane Centre for Investigative Journalism, where he reported on corporate fraud, government corruption, money laundering and offshore finance. He was a key reporter on South Africa’s agenda setting “Gupta Leaks” project. He is now working on global research and communications projects on offshore financial flows and climate change.

Karl Ove Moene

Karl Ove Moene is a professor of economics at the University of Oslo. He is also the leader of the Centre of Equality, Social Organization and Performance (ESOP) at the University of Oslo, and a member of the International Panel on Social Progress. Moene’s main research interest centers on the political economy of development, governance and inequality. Among his recent publications is The Welfare State Revisited (Columbia University Press, 2018).

Ryan Powell

Ryan Powell is a media development specialist implementing projects in east and west Africa and Europe. He consults and advises advises independent start up media on content and sustainable business strategies, currently on a project in Tanzania with the Media Development Investment Fund. He spent two years as a media development associate for the Natural Resource Governance Institute training journalists on resource governance, data-use and security. As a journalist, Powell has been based in Turkey, Germany and the US. He holds an MPhil in Development Studies from Oxford University. Among his recent publications is Data Journalism in Tanzania (World Bank).

Jenik Radon

Jenik Radon is an adjunct professor at the School of Public and International Affairs, Columbia University. He teaches in the area of sustainable natural resource development and focuses on risk and strategic management, including environment, minority rights, and anticorruption. Radon has served as a Fulbright Specialist at the Law School of Makerere University, Uganda, and has taught at Stanford University’s law and business schools; Indira Gandhi Institute for Development Research in Mumbai, India; Monterrey Tech, Queretaro, Mexico; and Externado University in Bogota, Colombia. He also practices law with Radon Law Offices, a boutique international law firm. Mr. Radon has been awarded Estonia’s Order of the Cross Terra Mariana and Georgia’s highest civilian award, the Order of Honor. Radon presently advises public authorities and civil society in a number of emerging nations around the world and is the author of Walk Tall! A Beautiful Tomorrow for Emerging Nations (Paradise Publishing Haus Ltd., Papua New Guinea, 2018, published in connection with the 2018 APEC conference).

Nandini Ravichandran

Nandini Ravichandran is an attorney qualified to practice in India and the State of New York and experienced in international transactional law. She has represented private sector multinational enterprises and advised governments and state-owned enterprises in the natural resources sector, on issues related to environmental and social impact assessments, human rights due diligence, and corporate accountability. In her current role as a program manager for a legal aid organization in the United States, Ravichandran is responsible for the strategy, development and implementation of a federally funded program focused on increasing access to justice for immigrant populations.

Anya Schiffrin

Anya Schiffrin is the director of the technology and media specialization at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs and lectures on global media, innovation and human rights. She writes on journalism and development, investigative reporting in the global south and has published extensively over the last decade on the media in Africa and the extractive sector. Schiffrin served for nine years as a member of the advisory board of the Open Society Foundation’s Program on Independent Journalism, and she is currently on the OSF Global Board. Schiffrin’s most recent book is African Muckraking: 75 Years of Investigative Journalism from Africa (Jacana, 2014).

Tina Søreide

Tina Søreide is a professor of law and economics at the Norwegian School of Economics (NHH). Her main interest is the interaction between governments and markets, and her research focuses on corruption, corporate liability and law enforcement. Søreide is engaged in policy work, and has conducted projects for the OECD, the World Bank, the UN, and the Norwegian government.

Mona Thowsen

Mona Thowsen is the secretary general of Publish What You Pay Norway (PWYP Norway). PWYP Norway consists  of 20 Norwegian organizations and is the Norwegian affiliate of the international network Publish What You Pay. PWYP member organizations span over 50 countries.

Petter Slaatrem Titland

Petter Slaatrem Titland has a BA in Human Geography and Latin American Studies from the University of Oslo and the National University of Colombia. From 2014 to 2018 he served as the spokesperson and chair of the Norwegian branch of Attac, an international social justice network working on issues like tax havens, trade agreements and financial stability.

Rodrigo Véliz Estrada

Rodrigo Véliz Estrada is a Guatemalan journalist and PhD student in history at CIESAS-México. He has specialized in Central America’s political crisis from 1944 to 1974.

Cover Image
March 13, 2019


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