when we talk about corruption, there are typical types of individuals that spring to mind.
There's the former Soviet mega maniacs, Saparmurat Niyazov.
He was one of them.
Until his death in 2000 and six, he was the all powerful leader of Turkmenistan, a Central Asian country rich in natural gas.
Now he really loved to issue presidential decrees and one renamed the Months of the Year, including after himself and his mother.
He spent millions of dollars creating a bizarre personality cult, and his crowning glory was the building off a 40 foot high, gold plated statue of himself, which stood proudly in the capital Central Square and rotated to follow the sun.
He was a slightly unusual guy.
And then there's that cliche.
African dictator or minister or official.
There's Tear, Dorine or being so.
His daddy is president for Life of Equatorial Guinea, a West African nation that has exported billions of dollars of oil since the 19 nineties and yet has a truly appalling human rights record.
The vast majority of its people are living in really miserable poverty, despite an income per capita that's on a par with that of Portugal, So being Jr well.
He buys himself a $30 million mansion in Malibu, California I've been up to its front gates.
I can tell you it's a magnificent spread.
He bought an 18 million euro art collection that used to belong to fashion designer You Sand Iran.
A stack of fabulous sports cars, some costing a $1,000,000 a piece O and a Gulfstream jet, too.
Now get this.
Until recently, he was earning an official monthly salary of less than $7000 on this down a teddy.
Well, he was a former oil minister off Nigeria under President Bachir, and it just so happens, is a convicted money launderer to We've spent a great deal of time investigating a $1,000,000,000.
That's right, a $1,000,000,000 oil deal that he was involved with and what we found was pretty shocking, but more about that later.
So it's easy to think that corruption happens somewhere.
Come over there, carried out by a bunch of greedy death spots and individuals up to no good in countries that we personally may know very little about and feel really unconnected to and unaffected by what might be going on.
But does it just happen over there.
I was very lucky.
My first job out of university was investigating the illegal trade in African ivory.
And that's how my relationship with corruption really began.
In 1993 with two friends who were colleagues Simon Taylor and Patrick Alley, we set up a new organization called Global Witness.
Our first campaign was investigating the role of illegal logging in funding the war in Cambodia.
So a few years later, and it's now 1997 and I'm in Angola.
Undercover, Investigating Blood Diamonds Perhaps you saw the film the Hollywood film Blood Diamond, the one with Leonardo DiCaprio or some of that sprang from from our work, Luanda.
It was full of landmine victims who were struggling to survive on the streets, on war orphans living in sewers under the streets and a tiny, very wealthy elite who gossiped about shopping trips to Brazil and Portugal.
And it was a slightly crazy place, So I'm sitting in a hot, very stuffy hotel room, feeling just totally overwhelmed.
But it wasn't about blood diamonds, because I've been speaking to lots of people there who will?
They talked about a different problem, that of a massive web of corruption on a global scale and millions of oil dollars going missing, and for what was then a very small organization of just a few people trying to even begin to think how we might tackle.
That was an enormous challenge.
And in the years that I've bean and we've all been campaigning and investigating, I've repeatedly seen that what makes corruption on a global massive scale possible?
Well, it it isn't just greed or the misuse of power or that nebulous phrase weak governance.
I mean, yes, it's all of those, but corruption.
It's made possible by the actions of global facilitators.
So let's go back to some of those people I talked about earlier.
Now they're all people we have investigated, and they're all people who couldn't do what they do alone.
Take Obiang Jr Well, he didn't end up with high end art and luxury have houses without help.
He did business with global banks.
A bank in Paris held accounts of companies controlled by him, one of which was used by the art on American banks.
Will they funneled $73 million into the states, some of which was used to buy that California mention, and he didn't do all this in his own name, either.
He used shell companies.
He used one to buy the property and another which was in somebody else's name, to pay the huge bills it costs to run the place.
And then there's down a Tet A well.
When he was oil minister, he awarded on oil block now worth over a $1,000,000,000 to a company.
That guess what?
Yeah, he was a hidden owner off now.
It was then much later traded on with the kind assistance off the Nigerian government.
I have to be careful what I say here to subsidiaries off Shell and the Italian, any two of the biggest oil companies around.
So the reality is, is that the engine of corruption well, it exists far beyond the shores of countries like Equatorial Guinea or Nigeria or Turkmenistan.
This engine, well, it's driven by our international banking system by the problem of anonymous shell companies by the secrecy that we have afforded big oil, gas and mining operations and most of all by the failure of our politicians, toe back up their rhetoric and do something really meaningful and systemic to tackle this stuff.
Now let's take the banks first.
Well, it's not gonna come as any surprise for me to tell you that banks except dirty money.
But they prioritize their profits and other destructive ways to, for example, in Sarawak, Malaysia.
Now this region, it has just 5% of its forests left intact for 5%.
So how did that happen?
Well, because an elite and its facilitators have been making millions of dollars from supporting logging on an industrial scale for many years.
So we sent an undercover investigator into secretly film meetings with members of the ruling elite on the resulting footage.
Well, it made some people very angry, and you can see that on YouTube.
But it proved what we had long suspected because it showed how the state's chief minister, despite his later denials, used his control over land and forest licenses to enrich himself and his family and HSBC.
Well, we know that HSBC bankrolled the region's largest logging companies that were responsible for some of that destruction in Sarawak and elsewhere.
The bank violated its own sustainability policies in the process, but it turned around 100 and $30 million now, shortly after our expose, very shortly after our expose earlier this year, the bank announced a policy review on this Onda.
Well, is this progress?
Maybe, but we're going to be keeping very close eye on that case on.
Then there's the problem of anonymous shell companies.
Well, we've all heard about what they are, I think, and we all know there used quite a bit by people and companies who were trying to avoid paying their proper dues to society, also known as taxes.
But what doesn't usually come to light is how shell companies are used to steal huge sums of money, transformational sums of money from poor countries.
In virtually every case of corruption that we've investigated, shell companies have appeared, and sometimes it's been impossible to find out who was really involved in the deal.
A recent study by the World Bank looked at 200 cases of corruption.
It found that over 70% of those cases had used anonymous shell companies totaling almost $56 billion.
How many of these companies were in America?
In the United Kingdom, it's overseas territories and crown dependencies, and so it's not just on offshore problem It's an onshore 12 You see shell companies.
They're central to the secret deals, which may benefit wealthy elites rather than ordinary citizens.
One striking recent case that we've investigated is how the government in the Democratic Republic of Congo sold off a Siris of valuable state owned mining assets to shell companies in the British Virgin Islands.
So we spoke to sources and country troll through company documents and other information, trying to piece together a really true picture of the deal and were alarmed to find that the shell companies had quickly flipped many of the assets on for huge profits to major international mining companies listed in London.
Now the Africa Progress Panel led by Kofi Annan, they calculated that Congo may have lost more than $1.3 billion from these deals.
That's more than twice that's almost twice the country's annual health and education budget combined.
And will the people of Congo will they ever get their money back?
While the answer to that question on who was really involved in what really happened well, that's going to have probably remain locked away in the secretive company registries off the British Virgin Islands and elsewhere.
Unless we all do something about it on, How about the oil, gas and mining companies?
Okay, maybe it's a bit of a cliche to talk about them.
Corruption in that sector, no surprise assed corruption everywhere.
So why focus on that sector?
Well, because there's a lot at stake.
In 2000 and 11 natural resource exports outweighed aid flows by almost 19 toe one in Africa, Asia and Latin America 19 to 1.
Now that's a hell of a lot of schools and universities and hospitals and business startups, many of which haven't materialized and never will, because some of that money has simply been stolen away.
Now let's go back to the oil and mining companies and let's go back to down a Tet A on that $1,000,000,000 deal, and I forgive me.
I'm gonna read the next bit because it's a very live issue and our lawyers have been through this in some detail, and they want me to get it right now.
On the surface, the deal appeared straightforward.
Subsidiaries of Shell and Eni paid the Nigerian government for the block.
The Nigerian government transferred precisely the same amount to the very dollar to a new account earmarked for a shell company.
Who's Hidden owner?
Now, that's not bad going for a convicted money launderer.
And here's the thing.
After many months of digging around on reading through hundreds of pages of court documents, we found evidence that in fact, Shell and Eni had known.
But the funds would be transferred to that shell company, and frankly, it's hard to believe they didn't know who they were really dealing with there.
Now it just shouldn't take thes sort of efforts to find out where the money and deals like this went.
I mean, these estate assets, they're supposed to be used for the benefit of the people in the country.
But in some countries, citizens, journalists who are trying to expose stories like this have been harassed and arrested, and some have even risked their lives to do so.
And finally, well, there are those who believe that corruption is unavoidable.
It's just how some businesses done.
It's too complex, difficult to change.
So in effect what we just accept it.
But as a campaigner and investigator, I have a different view because I've seen what can happen when an idea gains momentum in the oil and mining sector.
For example, there is now the beginning of a truly worldwide transparency standard that could tackle some of these problems.
In 1999 when Global Witness called for oil companies to make payments on deals transparent, well, some people laughed.
The extreme naivety off that small idea.
But literally hundreds of civil society groups from around the world came together to fight for transparency on.
Now it's fast becoming the norm and the law 2/3 off the value off the world's oil and mining companies and now covered by transparency laws.
So this is change happening.
This is progress.
But But when not there yet by far, because it really isn't about corruption somewhere over there, is it in a globalized world, corruption is a truly globalized business on one that needs global solutions, supported and pushed by us all as global citizens.