TAI Weekly

TAI Weekly |How illicit activity hurts the poorest

By TAI (Role at TAI)
Dear Readers,The anti-corruption community is playing a prominent role in regards to sanctioned Russian assets, tracing ownership of yachts, mansions and other accoutrements of the super-rich, but we start this week with a reminder of how illicit activity hurts the poorest. Bryan Harris details the risks run by favela dwellers in Petropolis in the mountains of Brazil, which are made much worse by systemic corruption that diverts monies intended for reinforcing infrastructure from landslides. Lots to dig into from transparency of supply chains, the shift to open by default, open contracting for smart cities, and how project funding might not always be a bad thing. Plus, find some particularly interesting events in this round.
Transparency and accountability in global supply chains- the good, the bad and the increasingly green
Image Source: Macomb.eduSome good news to start – verifiable improvements in labor conditions. The Cotton Campaign, a global human rights coalition supported by more than 260 apparel manufacturers and retailers, has ended its campaign to boycott Uzbek cotton. Find out why! Koa, a Swiss-Ghanaian start-up is making its payments to farmers publicly available in real time using (you guessed it!) blockchain. This should improve supply chain traceability “from seed to shelf” in the cocoa sector. Is there enough scrutiny of metal supplies? Seems not. Big brands, such as Ikea, have product using nickel sourced from the Fenix mine in Guatemala, operated by Swiss-registered Solway Investment Group. Complaints by local communities about the contamination of Lake Izabal (Guatemala’s largest body of freshwater) were dismissed, but now leaked documents suggest Solway knew all along that it was contaminating the water. Greening procurement along the supply chain in a transparent way will be important to achieving climate goals – so we are excited to see the launch of the G20 Smart Cities Open Contracting Model Policy.Of course, it’s not just those in procurement who should be thinking about going green. Financial regulators have a critical role. Gary Gensler, head of the US Securities and Exchange Commission, offers an accessible explainer timed for yesterday’s meeting on new climate risk disclosure rules. Let’s hope more regulators follow his lead.  
Long read of the week!

Matthew Taylor and Luciano Da Ros provide a framework for evaluating the bottlenecks to effective accountability in Brazil and analyze the successes and failures of anticorruption efforts from the early days of the democratic transition through the demise of the massive Lava Jato investigations in their new book Brazilian Politics on Trial: Corruption and Reform Under Democracy.


All things open 
Last week we featured innovative uses of public domain data, this week Eliot Higgins, founder of Bellingcat, further makes the case for open source data – starting with documenting Putin’s war crimes.
What makes it hard to fight digital disinformation? A review of studies finds that the most significant challenges are limited access to social media data, inconsistent and inflexible funding, and piecemeal collaboration within and between CSOs and the private sector.
In a win for open data advocates, the UN statistical commission endorses the principle of “open by default” for government data, while India does the same in its draft data accessibility and use policy, though some areas of concern remain. 
Last week we featured a gender pay gap bot, this week we share this episode exploring why pay transparency is still controversial.
Skirting sanctions and reviewing your donations
Last Wednesday, Australia, Canada, the European Commission, Germany, Italy, France, Japan, the UK, and US, agreed to increased cooperation to target Russian assets via a new task force to share information to inform and assist with sanctions, asset freezing, seizures and criminal prosecution.

This comes as reports surfaced about how Russian billionaire Alexei Mordashov sold £1bn worth of his shares in Tui, the world’s biggest tourism company, despite being sanctioned. How did he do it? By use of a British Virgin Islands company. This is just another example of how secrecy jurisdictions are helping oligarchs evade sanctions.

Of course, there is also the issue of money spent to influence. Great to see the work of Anti-Corruption Data Collective – supported by TAI members – shed light on oligarch giving in the U.S., showing that over 20 years Russian billionaires gave as much as $435 million to 200 institutions in the United States. Non-profits need to vet their donors, too.Check out this new effort to track down and catalogue the vast wealth held outside Russia by oligarchs and key figures close to Russian President Vladimir Putin.”

Closing dirty money loopholes – Beneficial ownership, real state and snowwashing 
Image Source: openownership.orgWhat of getting to longer term policy fixes? Kate Beioley of the Financial Times picks up on the Financial Action Task Force shift to demand countries set up a “beneficial ownership register” or sufficient alternative, as we covered last week – noting that these stricter standards will help sanctions hit their targets. Further momentum, as the UK government approved the Beneficial Ownership Data Standard to collect, exchange, use, and distribute beneficial ownership data among key agencies. One hotspot is to address money laundering through real estate, so interesting to read new research on FinCen’s Geographic Targeting Program (GTO), which requires title insurance companies to collect data on the ultimate beneficial owner of companies buying real estate in cash. The authors found that the GTO did not yet lead to a reduction in corporate cash purchases. Why? Most likely due to imperfect implementation. Just as we’ve found on other types of disclosure, authorities need to act on the demanded data to create a meaningful deterrent effect.The research is useful reading for Canadian officials, given the rush of real estate purchases by overseas entities. Transparency International Canada call for measures to stop the country being marketed as a secrecy jurisdiction for foreign money. 
Essential listening!
Louise Shelley and Oliver Bullough join Meghna Chakrabarti on NPR’s On Point to look at how the global financial system enables oligarchy, and how to fix it.
The case for project grants and some help on theories of change
There has been a helpful shift in philanthropy toward flexible “core” funding of late, but is there still a place for project grants? The funder collaborative Funders for Real Cost, Real Change argue yes, if done well. Dive into the first of the three-part series “Project Grants Need Not Be the Enemy” to learn about ways to tackle the nonprofit starvation cycle, structure project grants to do a better job of supporting the organizational health of recipients, and more.Want to build out your theory of change? This new workbook from USAID is designed to help you do just that. Useful for funders and partners alike.
More to read!
TAI spotlight
Ford Foundation President Darren Walker will be a featured speaker of Skoll World Forum.MacArthur Fellow Saul Griffith explains why we need to “electrify everything.”Luminate’s CEO Stephen King spoke with Maria Ressa, journalist and Nobel Peace Prize recipient, and Peter Pomerantsev, senior fellow at the Johns Hopkins University Agora Institute, about disinformation and its threat to democracy at South by Southwest (SXSW).
Jobs at TAI members

Job postings at Hewlett Foundation – Ongoing

Job postings at MacArthur Foundation – OngoingJob postings at Open Society Foundations – OngoingJob postings at Luminate – OngoingJob postings at Ford Foundation– OngoingJob postings at FCDO – OngoingJob postings at Skoll – Ongoing

  Job listingsAdvocacy Associate – Open OwnershipCommunications Associate – Open OwnershipProgram Associate – China Office  – ClimateWorks FoundationCase Study Writer/Ethnographer – Funders for Real Cost, Real ChangeFall 2022 Fellowship Sponsorship, Racial Justice Program – ACLUOperations Associate – Open Gov Hub – Global IntegrityProgram Officer, Anti-Corruption and Governance Center (ACGC) – The Center for International Private EnterpriseProgram Officer: Central and Eastern Europe (Multiple Positions) – National Democratic InstituteBusiness and Data Analyst Team Manager at The International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) – OngoingOpenings at I-APS – Ongoing           Openings  at National Democratic Institute – OngoingOpenings at The Sentry – OngoingOpenings at Contracting Resources Group– Ongoing    Calls/OpportunitiesThe Race Equity Culture Fellowship OngoingHive Mind’s Digital Campaigning Basics course– OngoingReimagining Philanthropy e-Learning Program– Monday, March 1st- April 8th, 2022! Pacific Islands Investigative Journalism Opportunities – OngoingFellowship, The Project on Resources and Governance (PRG)– March 31, 2022Aspen Institute’s Tech Policy Hub & Energy and EnvironmentWest Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI) call for papers and articles – Open year-roundFree digital security training– OngoingCall for proposals: Informality, tax, and the state – Proposals accepted on a rolling basis              
CalendarTrust between government and citizens: the key to responsiveness? – 22 March 2022Tackling the Foundations of Inequality: Understanding Barriers to Women’s Participation in Public Procurement in Eastern Africa – March 23, 2022SSRI Frontiers of Social Innovation Annual Conference –March 22-24, 2022Environmental Democracy- the Westminster Foundation for Democracy (WFD) 29 March, 2022 – 31 March 2022Making Anti-Corruption Real: How to Stop Wasting Money and Make Progress – The Anti-Corruption Evidence (ACE) research consortium – March 29, 2022Skoll World Forum – April 6–8, 2022Call for papers in advance of the Shifting Narratives Conference on the political economy of public services, spending and production – 10 April 2022International Convention on  Anti-Corruption, Good Governance, and Human Rights –  April 21-22, 2022 (Boston, MA)Natural Resource Governance and Energy Transition: Policies and Practice course – 23 May to 22 July.United Philanthropy Forum – July 18-20, 2022SVRI Forum – September 19- 23,  2022
Don't miss our latest publications Subscribe now to get our notifications