Charmian Gooch is the 2014 TED Prize winner. At Global Witness, she exposes how a global architecture of corruption is woven into the extraction and exploitation of natural resources.

Why you should listen

Charmian Gooch co-founded the watchdog NGO Global Witness with colleagues Simon Taylor and Patrick Alley in 1993, in response to growing concerns over covert warfare funded by illicit trade. Since then, Global Witness has captured headlines for their exposé of "blood diamonds" in Uganda, of mineral exploitation in the Congo, of illegal timber trade between Cambodia and Thailand, and more. With unique expertise on the shadowy threads connecting corrupt businesses and governments, Global Witness continues its quest to uncover and root out the sources of exploitation.

In 2014, Gooch and Global Witness were awarded the $1 million TED Prize, along with the Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship, for their campaign to end anonymous companies. Gooch's TED Prize wish: for us to know who ultimately owns and controls companies and launch a new era of openness in business. Global Witness highlighted the importance of this issue in an investigation, aired on 60 Minutes, where they sent an undercover investigator into 13 New York law firms. The investigator posed as an adviser to a government minister in Africa and asked for thoughts on how to move money into the United States for a plane, a yacht and a brownstone. All but one firm offered advice. 

The Panama Papers, released in April of 2016, further demonstrate the need for transparency. The papers paint a picture of how the rich and powerful around the world use offshore accounts and anonymous companies to move money. "This secretive world is being opened up to global public scrutiny," said Gooch, on the day the papers were released.


What others say

“Global Witness ... works to expose the corrupt exploitation of natural resources.” — New Times

More news and ideas from Charmian Gooch


The Panama Papers highlight how anonymity fuels corruption

April 4, 2016

A trail of $2 billion in offshore deals that traces to Vladimir Putin’s inner circle. The Prime Minister of Iceland, accused of hiding millions of dollars in investments. The Prime Minister of Pakistan’s family, linked to six luxury real estate deals in London. The Panama Papers, revealed yesterday, represent the largest data leak in history […]

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Why dirty money is far too easy to hide

February 4, 2016

Corrupt officials and criminal operators are brilliant at hiding their money and actions from public view. But there’s something we can do about it, says the team at Global Witness. It starts with closing loopholes.

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On “60 Minutes,” TED Prize winner Charmian Gooch shows how easy it can be to move questionable funds into the US

February 1, 2016

A corruption investigator walks into a law firm and says he wants to buy a brownstone, a jet and a yacht. This isn’t the start of a joke. It’s the premise of the latest investigation by Global Witness, the anti-corruption organization co-founded by 2014 TED Prize winner Charmian Gooch. In an investigation revealed on 60 Minutes as well […]

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