When taxpayer money goes to companies with murky ownership, it may put lives in danger and support shady actors. The watchdog group Global Witness shows what can happen when a government ends up working with anonymous companies.Continue reading
Why you should listen
Charmian Gooch co-founded the watchdog NGO Global Witness with colleagues Simon Taylor and Patrick Alley, in response to growing concerns over covert warfare funded by illicit trade in 1993. 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 York Times
Charmian Gooch’s TED talks
More news and ideas from Charmian Gooch
The state of women in the workforce, loopholes in London’s alternative stock market, and Mission 2020
As usual, the TED community has lots of news to share this week. Below, some highlights. Why there are still so few women at the top. Leanin.org, the organization created by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg to help empower women, released its second annual Women in the Workplace report. The news is not good: Women have […]Continue reading
Chances are, you probably haven’t heard of Section 1504 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. But this rule, adopted on Monday by the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), brings with it the potential for big global change. Section 1504 requires that all oil, gas and mining companies listed in the […]Continue reading