New Finance Uncovered London course dates – call for applications!

We are delighted to put out a call to journalists, campaigners and academics to attend our four-day financial investigative journalism training course in London.

The dates for our next training will be: Tuesday 7 November 2017 – Friday 10 November 2017

You do not need to have a financial background to apply but we consider it important when selecting candidates to see evidence of your investigative experience. Class instructions will take place in English.

Why attend?

Over four days, you will be shown how to investigate corporate accounts, offshore activity and corporate corruption. We will show you where to find documents, how to analyse them and other practical tools to help uncover financial secrecy.

A combination of hands-on training and guidance from senior practitioners will give you the basis to investigate financial corruption as well as offering the opportunity to network with other journalists.

The course aims to help participants understand:

  • the building blocks of the offshore world
  • how to access and interpret company accounts
  • where to access other company information
  • the methodology behind the groundbreaking tax avoidance investigations into Google, SAB Miller and Vodafone – by the journalists who conducted them
  • how to investigate and report corruption stories
  • the steps required to keep safe and minimise personal risk
  • how to track the international policy agenda relating to illicit financial flows
  • how to use Freedom of Information laws in different jurisdictions

Bursaries available

Bursaries are available for journalists from the developing and emerging world. Bursaries cover visa fees, travel, accommodation and per diems for food and travel in London. Due to the limited number of bursaries, applicants will be selected on their track record in investigative journalism. As we tend to be over-subscribed some candidates will be placed on a waiting list for our 2018 course.

Western Journalists, Academics & Campaigners

There are also places available to paying journalists from the UK, Europe and North America. The course fee for journalists from UK and Europe is £650. Course fees go towards subsidising travel and accommodation costs for other participants.

How to apply

To apply please fill in the online application form. Please do not copy and paste entire articles into the form, where possible, please provide links or a few lines summary of the article plus date of publication. The deadline for your application is Friday 10 August at 12h00 BST.

Timetable (Subject to minor alteration)

Day One: Tuesday November 7

Registration from 9am onwards for a 9.30am start.

9.30-13:00John Christensen (Tax Justice Network): An introduction to help you understand the roots and history of offshore, its scale, the techniques used to avoid, evade and launder, and policy responses and relevant institutions delivered by one of the giants of the tax justice movement.

13:00-14:00 Lunch

14.00-15.20James Henry (former McKinsey chief economist, attorney and investigative journalist), Investigative Economics: The stories behind the numbers. Global finance, private banks, economic trends.


15.30-16:30 The tax incentives offered to multinationals and how they are abused

16.30-17.50 Beneficial Ownership and investigating corruption in Sarawak, Malaysia. Group discussion about reporting corruption.

18.00 – Networking food & drinks (optional) for participants and trainers.

Day Two: Wednesday November 8

How to understand company accounts by analysing financial statements including important accounting policies such as revenue recognition – the key to unpicking many suspect accounts – which notes to the accounts to focus on and why. With Raj Bairoliya (a leading forensic accountant)

09.30-10.30 Motivation to massage earnings

10.30-11.15 Profit and loss account

Coffee break 10-15 mins

11.30-13.30 Balance sheet and Funds flow statement

13.00-14.00 Lunch

14.30-15.30 Notes to accounts

Coffee break: 10-15 mins

15.45-17.30 Putting it all together and an interactive session building up a sample set of accounts or case study questions

Day Three: Thursday November 9

9:00-10: 30am A live “Investigative Dashboard” tour. Cynthia O’Murchu (Financial Times) and Nick Mathiason (Finance Uncovered) will show participants how to access information from:

  • UK Companies House
  • The US Securities & Exchange Commission and the Toronto Stock Exchange
  • The Hong Kong stock exchanges
  • Tax havens around the world

10:45 to 12:00pm Now it’s your turn! Working in groups, we ask you to get the key financial of specific multinationals companies. And then we’ll ask you to share your findings.

12:00 to 13:00Jenna Corderoy on Freedom of Information. How you can use the UK and EU FoI to shed light on your country.

13.00-14.00 Lunch

14.00-16.00 How to bring home investigations in developing and developed countries: with Richard Brooks (author of the Great Tax Robbery, former tax inspector with Her Majesty’s Tax and Revenue now regarded by many as the UK’s best journalist on tax avoidance/evasion). Richard will go through the practical steps he took to bring home influential and powerful investigations on SAB Miller’s tax avoidance in Ghana, Associated British Food’s tax avoidance in Zambia and a series of stories he wrote on Vodafone’s tax structure.

16:30-18:00 Felicity Lawrence: one of the UK’s most respected investigative reporters, Felicity was a key member of the Guardian’sTax Gap team which revealed over two weeks the techniques used by some of the world’s biggest companies to avoid hundreds of millions of pounds in tax. Felicity also exposed industrial scale tax avoidance by Barclays Bank. She will walk us through how she constructed her investigations.

Suggested reading:

SAB Miller’s tax avoidance in Ghana, Associated British Food’s tax avoidance in Zambia, Google and the $60bn tax dodge

Day Four : Friday November 10

9.15-10:45 Paul Holden (director of investigations at Corruption Watch) How to construct a corruption investigation plus the steps you need to maximise your personal and data security. Paul is a globally respected investigator specialising in the arms trade.

11:00-12:30 Workshop with an independent Anti-Money Laundering (AML) senior adviser

Short Lunch break…(working lunch!)

12:45-14:00 Johnny West, founder of Open Oil, will explain how to scrutinise oil contracts and give an overview of the oil and gas industries.

14:15 – 15.30 Policy Wrap with John Christensen plus Nick Mathiason. There are major policy changes happening in the illicit finance space. We focus on the story opportunities here.

15.30-16.30 – The Finance Uncovered Wrap You’ve got the tools and skills. Let’s get stories out there. Collaborations and projects.

16.30 Course ends

Suggested further reading:

1) Tom Bergen’s award winning Reuters investigation into tax abuse by Starbuck, the coffee chain here

2) here is a summary of the Finance Uncovered cross-border investigation into Africa’s biggest telecom company involving four African journalists who took our course.

3) here is a documentary called The Town that Took on the Taxman. It broadcast on the BBC earlier this year. The programme lasts one hour so you may not have time to watch the whole thing but it is very accessible.

4) Reports from TJN on Price of Offshore Revisited

About Finance Uncovered

Finance Uncovered’s mission is to increase the quantity and quality of illicit finance related news items in the media – particularly in the developing, emerging and transitioning world. We do this by training journalists and campaigners with skills and tools to investigate tax avoidance, tax evasion, money laundering and corruption. We then work with our trained network helping them publish or broadcast cross-border illicit finance news items into the public domain.

Since 2013, we have trained 212 journalists and campaigners from 71 countries – including eight Panama Papers reporters and several members of the Organized Crime & Corruption Reporting Project. The surveys we receive from participants after our training are extremely positive. But we don’t just train journalists and campaigners. After our courses, we use the momentum generated by new skills to forge collaborations and provide research and guidance. This has helped our trained global network generate a large number of illicit finance related news items.

For more information, email [email protected]. We look forwards to seeing your application.

Twitter: @FinUncovered Hashtag: #FinanceUncovered