Call for papers: 4th Making Transparency Possible Conference: Follow the money

Call for papers:
4th Making Transparency Possible Conference: Follow the money

Oslo Metropolitan University, Oslo, Norway, 19th March 2020

“There is a growing global consensus that the secrecy-havens—jurisdictions which undermine global standards for corporate and financial transparency—pose a global problem: they facilitate both money laundering and tax avoidance and evasion, contributing to crime and unacceptably high levels of global wealth inequality.” (Joseph E. Stiglitz and Mark Pieth)

Investigative journalists trying to research illicit financial flows by following money, information and people, face a number of challenges. While it is important for the public to understand the consequences of illicit financial flows and how far some are willing to go to keep money and information hidden from public scrutiny, public and governmental understanding of financial markets is hampered by secrecy mechanisms and facilitators of illicit financial flows. As a result, cross border investigative journalism has become vital in order to build public understanding of the consequences of secrecy in financial markets.

This is the fourth research conference in the series “Making Transparency Possible - Interdisciplinary dialogues”. The conference invites research papers for a special session on investigative journalism and hindrances and threats investigative journalists face when researching and revealing illicit financial flows.

Confirmed keynotes:

  • Bradley Birkenfeld is a former international banker and wealth manager who worked with the Swiss investment bank UBS from 2001 to 2005. The bank enabled wealthy Americans to hide wealth due to Switzerland’s banking secrecy laws and to avoid paying tax in the US. In 2007, he blew the whistle on UBS. He later obtained the largest whistle-blower reward ever given to an individual whistle-blower for reporting IRS Tax Fraud.

  • Jóhannes Stefánsson is the Icelandic financial whistle blower and former managing director and CEO of the Namibian fishing company, Samherji. From 2014 he started to strongly suspect that the company he worked for was not going to contribute to the people of Namibia nor to Africa. Stefánsson left the company in 2016 and through 30 000 documents leaked to Wikileaks he exposed that Samherji had been channelling millions through the Norwegian bank DnB to accounts in Dubai and the Marshall Islands to Namibian  service to access fishing quotas in the country. The leak is known as “The Fishrot Files” and the documents showed that Samherji paid around 10 million USD in bribes to several Namibian officials and funnelled money through the Norwegian bank DnB to accounts in Dubai and the Marshall Islands. 

  • Simon Bendtsen is a Danish journalist with the newspaper Berlingske Tidende. Bendtsen helped expose the Danske Bank money laundering scandal. The bank is now being investigated for channeling 234 billion dollars through an affiliate in Estonia.

  • Linda Larsson Kakuli is a multiple award-winning computer journalist and researcher at SVT in Sweden. She has worked with some of the major revelations of recent years, including the Panama and Paradise leaks and most recently the revelations about suspected money laundering in Swedbank and SEB.

  • Axel Gordh Humlesjö is an internationally acclaimed and award-winning  investigative reporter at the Swedish public broadcaster - SVT. He specializes in organized crime, corruption and digital research. In 2018 he led a international group of reporters in an investigation of the murder of two UN experts in the Democratic Republic of Congo. His latest project exposed systematic money laundering from Russia through Swedbank, Scandinavia's largest bank.

  • Ingi F. Vilhjálmsson is an Icelandic journalist who works for a news magazine called Stundin. In November last year he participated in the publication of a story, along with Wikileaks, the Icelandic TV-program Kveikur and Al Jazeera,  about the Icelandic fishing company Samherji´s payments of bribes to politicians and officials in Namibia to secure it access to fishing quotas. One of the threads of the story was how Samherji used its bank accounts in the Norwegian bank DNB to pay these bribes.

  • William Bourdon is a lawyer of the Paris Bar and an internationally engaged activist for the defence of Human Rights. His main areas of activity are criminal law, including criminal business law and special criminal law, business law, including litigation and commercial contracts in France and abroad, media law, including the right of the press and cinema law and public and private international law. He frequently writes articles on international criminal and civil justice, human rights, criminal law, globalization, issues of terrorism, the fight against corruption, whistle-blowers, ecological and economic crimes and participate in conference and activities within France and globally.

  • Roar Østby, head of compliance in the Norwegian bank DnB.

  • Lars Erik Bolstad is a data scientist and expert on artificial intelligence in the Norwegian bank DnB.

  • Nicholas Lord is a Professor of Criminology. He joined the University of Manchester in September 2013 and teaches in the areas of white-collar and corporate crimes, financial and economic crimes, serious and organized crimes, and criminological research. Nicholas has primary research interests in white-collar and corporate crimes of a financial and economic nature, such as fraud, corruption and bribery, as well as the organization of serious crimes for financial gain, such as 'organized crime' and food fraud.

  • Tina Søreide is Professor of Law and Economics, NHH. Her research is focused on corruption, governance, markets and development, currently with an emphasis on law enforcement. At NHH, she teaches courses in business ethics, corruption and governance, coordinates a student mobility program in anti-corruption with schools in Ukraine and Georgia, and organizes a research program on Corporate Compliance and Enforcement. 

  • Kalle Moene is a Professor at the Department of Economics, University of Oslo. He is the head of ESOP (a center for the study of Equality, Social Organization, and Performance). His research interest is the study of inequality in income and wealth in rich and poor countries. A core interest is the role of economic development, institutions, unions and welfare states. He was a lead author in the International Panel of Social Progress.  He has published widely in international journals and received the Fridtjof Nansen Prize for excellent research in 2016.

  • Anis Yazidi is leading the applied artificial intelligence research group at OsloMet. He has published over 130 research articles and is among the top 50 most publishing researchers in Norway according to the most recent survey by forskerforum. He has received several awards at international conferences. He is an IEEE senior member and editor of various international journals.

  • Pål Kulø Lønseth is Head of Forensic Service in Norway. Pål has extensive experience in investigations on organized and financial crimes and contract compliance issues. He has been Deputy Minister in the ministry of Justice, Senior Public Prosecutor, Judge and Legal advisor in a UN-project in Afghanistan.

The organizers seek paper presentations based on on-going research. We particularly welcome original, high-quality papers for presentation that can deepen our understanding of the following questions:

  • What information hindrances do investigative journalists investigating illicit financial flows face? 
  • What type of threats/pressures/dangers/risks do investigative journalists face when investigating illicit financial flows? 
  • What do journalists and journalist organisations do to protect investigative journalists facing threats/pressures/dangers/risks when investigating illicit financial flows?
  • Other relevant topics are also welcome. 

We have a limited number of scholarships available to cover direct costs for travel/hotel. Priority will be given to researchers from Latin America, Africa, The Middle East and Asia. 

Abstracts and applications for scholarships have to be submitted before January 15th 2020. Please submit a one-page paper abstract together with a short CV of no more than two pages. Please send to

The conference is organized by the research project “Making Transparency Possible” at Oslo Metropolitan University and financed by The Research Council of Norway.