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Hera Hussain - Issue #1: ⚡ Big Oil's latest scandal, offshore money in the UK & tech fighting revenge porn/domestic abuse

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This is the first issue of my newsletter. Most of you may know me already but if you don't, this news
 

Hera Hussain حرا

April 14 · Issue #1 · View online
Open data, women's rights, anti-corruption, movement building, representative media and more

This is the first issue of my newsletter. Most of you may know me already but if you don’t, this newsletter is a great way to find out more or you can follow me on twitter. I work in opening up data about companies & who run them to help investigative journalists and NGOs report on corruption & money laundering. I hope you enjoy this edition. I also run a charity on using technology to empower women against violence & I’m deeply interested in political narratives around Middle East. This is what my newsletters will be about. If you like it, share it with your friends & colleagues.  

Corruption & Open Data
LATEST: In one of the biggest corruption scandals in the history of the oil sector – it has been found that Shell knowingly took part in bribery scheme that robbed the Nigerian people of over a billion dollars. 
5 million Nigerians face starvation today. 💰1.1b was laundered through this deal. This is 1.5x what is needed to respond to the famine.
Internal Shell emails seen by Finance Uncovered and Global Witness show how the world’s fifth biggest company took part in a scheme which deprived Nigeria and its people of $1.1 billion in a murky deal for access to one of Africa’s most valuable oil blocks, known as OPL 245. Read more here.
The Global Laundromat scandal: Billions of dollars were moved out of Russia through anonymously owned UK companies and Britain’s high street banks. At least $740m was processed by 17 of Britain’s high street banks, robbing Russian people of critical public resources. This just goes further to show that corruption is not a problem that only happens in so-called third-world. It is often Western companies that give bribes to local government, engage in tax fraud and facilitate illicit flows out of the countries. There is another excellent piece on how offshore money hurts democracy by Oliver Bullough in the New York Times that is worth reading.
Is Brexit going to lead to more scandals like the Global Laundromat? I argue yes in the Independent. David Pegg also covered the OECD report that came to the same conclusion in the Guardian.
What does corruption and open company data have to do with women’s rights? Read what I have to say.
Oxfam’s latest report shows Europe’s 20 biggest banks are registering over a quarter of their profits in tax havens. Here are some key findings:
- Europe’s biggest banks register €25 billion profit in tax havens & 59%’s US subsidiaries are Delaware corps.
- At least €628m of the Europe’s banks’ profits were made in countries where they employ 0 people.
- Top tax havens in terms of reported profits for Europe’s largest banks: Hong Kong, Luxembourg.
- Not all banks are as bad as each other so this shows that it is ethical behaviour is possible despite market pressures.
- Low levels of profit in countries that are not tax havens translate into low tax revenues for those countries’ governments. For instance, Indonesia and Monaco have a similar level of economic activity by European banks, but the banks make 10 times more profit in Monaco than they do in Indonesia. Such gaps, which can hardly be explained on the basis of ‘real’ economic activity, lead to the loss of vital tax revenues to fight inequality and poverty to countries like Indonesia, where 28 million people live in extreme poverty.
Did you know that corruption can also fuel climate change? Project Syndicate reports
In June 2016, the US Securities and Exchange Commission published a rule, under Section 1504 of the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act, requiring oil, gas, and mining companies to disclose all payments made to governments on a project-by-project basis. If the SEC had issued its rule earlier, Shell and Eni most likely would not have gone ahead with the OPL 245 deal, because they would have had to disclose their payment. But opposition from the oil industry delayed the rule, so the companies were able to conceal their payment.
This was new analysis for me, and I would love to hear what you think. 
U.S. administration sounds death knell for transparency initiative: After the election of Donald Trump, the rule mentioned above has also been removed, which is a major blow to decades of work done by extractives and transparency campaigners in the US and resource-rich countries. Read the powerful statement by Global Witness on this here.
Panama Papers: The lovely folks at Financial Transparency Coalition put together their favourite stories from the leak which you can read here. Massive congratulations to ICIJ for winning two Pulitzer Prizes for their work the investigations. Thanks to Renata Avila, I found out that following the Panama Papers, all public servants and elected officials in Ecuador will be barred from holding wealth in offshore accounts.
Estimating tax avoidance: New findings, new questions. Alex Cobham from Tax Justice Network re-examines the range of estimates of the global scale of tax avoidance (read it here). These include:
the $600 billion annual tax loss estimated by IMF researchers Crivelli et al. (2015; 2016), which divides roughly into $400 billion of OECD losses and $200 billion elsewhere;
the $100 billion annual tax losses that UNCTAD’s World Investment Report 2015 estimated for developing countries due only to conduit FDI investment through ‘tax havens’;
the $100 billion to $240 billion globally that OECD researchers estimate;
the $130 billion globally that we have estimated as annual losses due to avoidance by US multinationals only; and so on.
GFI found that globally the business of transnational crime is valued at an average of $1.6 trillion to $2.2 trillion annually. Read more here.
Women's rights
After years of women’s rights campaigners complaining to Facebook to look at the problem of revenge porn, it looks like Facebook is finally addressing it.
Facebook launching tools to tackle revenge porn
How did I start Chayn & how can tech be used for the better and the worst when it comes to fighting domestic abuse? Read more about Chayn’s Tech Vs Abuse partnership with Snook, Safelives & Comic Relief in the Guardian. 
'I had minutes to make the call': the tech helping domestic abuse survivors
Cyber Harassment: How real is it for a survivor’s mental health?
Perspective
The UK has made 10 times more in arms sales to Saudi Arabia than it's given in aid to Yemen | The Independent
Me, Myself and My Hijab - The New York Times
“Being pro-refugee must also mean anti-war”. Strong statement. It’s up to all of us to resist the military-industrial complex.
Resurrecting the Antiwar Movement | Jacobin
'The man who goes on a hunger strike has a soul': When Jinnah defended Bhagat Singh
Misc.
Man Illegally Documents Trip to North Korea, Smuggles a Ton of Photos HomeMan Illegally Documents Trip to North Korea, Smuggles a Ton of Photos Home
Strangers in Their Own Land: The 'Deep Story' of Trump Supporters : NPR
Where I've been
I was at RightsCon, Personal Democracy Forum and the Panama Papers anniversary event. I’ll be writing about this soon.
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