Financial Opacity

Useful resources and further reading


Please check out the source and decide how much credibility you would attach to it: some of these sources might be campaigning groups with particular perspectives and approaches that may not be helpful in your situation.

Some of these resources are free but require you to register, which could mean being added to marketing lists, as well as having your searches collected by them.

In some countries a company information service, such as a credit reference agency or credit bureau, is obliged to let an individual or company know who has been looking at their details. (For example, if you register for company searches with a business that offers credit reference services, it may be that the companies you search for will be able to see you have been checking their details).

And you should consider the implications of being tracked or monitored through your IP address or cookies if you visit any site on the web.


(Sources for this information include: StAR Asset Recovery Handbook, Corporate Watch and Global Investigative Journalism Network (GIJN), details below)



Story-based inquiry: a manual for investigative journalists, by Mark Lee Hunter et al (UNESCO, 2011)

(downloads available in several languages)


Manual for Investigative Journalism in Africa (Konrad Adenauer Stiftung/Foundation, Germany):


The Centre for Investigative Journalism: Handbook of Libel Law (free download)


Guide to Media Law for Investigative Reporters, by Korieh Duodu (Forum for African Investigative Reporters (FAIR): (free download)


Legal dangers/defamation (book):

McNae’s Essential Law for Journalists, by Mark Hanna and Mike Dodd


Shell companies study (U.S. and Kenya come out top):

Global Shell Games: Testing Money Launderers’ and Terrorist Financiers’ Access to Shell Companies, by Michael Findley, Daniel Nielson and Jason Sharman (2012)


Money laundering report:

The Puppet Masters: How the Corrupt Use Legal Structures to Hide Stolen Assets and What to Do About It, by Emile van der Does de Willebois et al (Stolen Asset Recovery Initiative – World Bank, UNODC, 2011)


Offshore tax havens and shelters: (book)

Treasure Islands: Tax Havens and the Men Who Stole the World, by Nicholas Shaxson


A Reporter’s Guide to Energy and Development, by Revenue Watch Institute and Open Society Institute (2005)


International Monetary Fund (IMF) Guide on Resource Revenue Transparency (2007):


PWC Oil and Tax Guide for Africa (2013):

(country-by-country overview by accounting firm pwc)


Global Witness:

Report on Uganda’s oil contracts:


Anonymous companies: How secretive shell companies are a major barrier in the fight against poverty and what to do about it (2013)


Cybersecurity and Cyberwar: What Everyone Needs to Know by Peter W. Singer, Allan Friedman (ISBN: 9780199918119)


Accounting and financial statements:

Accounts Demystified: The astonishingly simple

guide to accounting, by Anthony Rice, Sixth Edition (2011), Pearson (ISBN: 978-0-273-74470-2)


Financial Shenanigans: How to Detect Accounting Gimmicks & Fraud in Financial Reports, Third Edition (2010), by Howard M. Schilit and Jeremy Perler (ISBN: 978-0071703079)


The Investigative Journalist’s Guide to Company Accounts, by Raj Bairoliya (Centre for Investigative Journalism) (buy online)


Company searches:

Online databases/searches for information on companies and individuals:


  • Free of charge or small charge for specific documents:


Investigative dashboard:



Filings of companies from around the world, includes UK’s Companies House and similar bodies in other countries. Also includes some public sector contracts won by companies and regulatory licences.


Company Check:

Alternative site for company registration and accounts details


European Business Registry EBR

(The search function is not that intuitive, but there is a very thorough guide to using it on the website. If you know what you are looking for, go straight to company search at the following link)





Trade Register:

And Trade Register search page:


South Africa:

Companies & Intellectual Property Commission: and for searches: (some services require registration, and this website does require patience: several test examples came up with page errors or buggy results)


Other South African databases:


(very wide range of possible searches, but all for a charge. Pricing is transparent and listed on the website)


Legal City: searches for companies and individuals


Who Owns Whom? (Was McGregor’s – now partially owned by Experian credit bureau and business information group) (subscription only, and pricing not transparent)




Swiss business registry:



BRELA company registry:



Uganda Registration Services Bureau



London Stock Exchange:

Company overviews, news and statutory announcements, share trading and significant shareholder changes.


UK National Storage Mechanism:

Official database administered by Morningstar listing all UK regulatory company announcements.


United States:

SEC/EDGAR (U.S. company records):


2) Subscription/charge a fee:

Some of these are global, many are U.S.-based


Lexis-Nexis: public records, court decisions, media, business records, people search

Consider trying to find someone to do a search for you, such as a friendly lawyer or even a law faculty at a university with a subscription.


Hoover’s (owned by Dun & Bradstreet):

Subscription, but extensive database


Dun & Bradstreet international companies database (this is included in part of Lexis-Nexis)


Proquest: (incorporating business records worldwide


Thomson Reuters Clear: (company records)


Companies House: (Very important source of UK company records)



Summaries of registration details and company accounts from UK Companies House. Also has corporate mapping feature that can be used to visualise subsidiaries, parent companies (U.S. employee benefits data) (U.S. court records)


General information, public records for people and business searches: (search of public records, worldwide company records, including Africa) (Internet archives to see how a web page has changed) (people and company finder) (people finder)

MBendi: (African company searches, events and business news)



Other useful websites/organisations:


African Forum and Network on Debt and Development (AFRODAD)

(includes campaign on extractive industries)


African Tax Administration Forum (ATAF)


Center for Public Integrity

( (investigations and toolkits on a wide variety of investigative topics)


Egmont Group:

(groups together Financial Intelligence Units from around the world)


Financial Action Task Force (FATF) on Money Laundering


Financial Transparency Coalition:


Global Financial Integrity: (very useful source with many useful documents and research papers and statistics to illustrate stories)


International Tax Dialogue:

(has extensive library of documents on taxation issues at:


International Money Laundering Information Network:


Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)


Tax Justice Network:


Tax Justice Network Africa:


World Bank Group:

Financial Market Integrity Group:

Stolen Asset Recovery (StAR) Initiative:

(useful resources include guidebook for international investigators)


World Legal Information Institute: legislation, court decisions (includes e.g. Tullow vs Heritage in Uganda)


United Nations Group:

United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime:

UN Economic Commission for Africa:

UNCAC Corruption Knowledge Management Consortium and Legal Library:


Ghana: (see also journalist networks below)

Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO):


Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad):



ActionAid Kenya (includes tax campaigns and information)


Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission:

Kenya National Audit Office:


Forum Syd

(Swedish NGO with projects in Kenya and Tanzania)


Southern and Eastern African Trade Information and Negotiations Institute (SEATINI) (including tax justice programme)



ActionAid Malawi (includes tax campaigns and information)


Financial Intelligence Unit


Malawi Economic Justice Network (MEJN)


Malawi Investment and Trade Centre (includes upcoming tenders and further links to Malawi organisations and agencies)


Malawi Revenue Authority


Tax Justice Network Malawi



Corporate Affairs Commission:


South Africa:

Lawyers for Better Business (L4BB)

(UK-based organisation, but involved in some campaigns, including in South Africa)


Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA) (has programmes around the region)


Economic Justice Network



ActionAid Tanzania (incudes tax campaigns and information)


BRELA company registry:


CountryMine: Mining Intelligence by Country:


Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI):



Forum Syd

(Swedish NGO with projects in Kenya and Tanzania)


MiningWatch Canada has some documents about Tanzanian resources


Prevention and Combating of Corruption Bureau (PCCB)


Tanzania Revenue Authority:


Transparency International Tanzania:


Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad):



ActionAid Uganda (incudes tax campaigns and information)


Advocates Coalition for Development and Environment:


African Institute for Energy Governance:

(Uganda-based, includes lawyers and accountants)


CSCO Civil Society Coalition on Oil and Gas:


Greenwatch Uganda:


National Environment Management Authority (NEMA):


Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad):


Southern and Eastern African Trade Information and Negotiations Institute (SEATINI) (including tax justice programme)


Transparency International Uganda:



International Conventions, Treaties, and Agreements:


African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption:


Council of Europe Conventions:


Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development Convention on

Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions:,3343,en_2649_34859_2017813_1_1_1_1,00.html


Southern African Development Community Protocol against Corruption 2001:


United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC):


United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC):



Resources/extractive industries/oil & gas:


See also OpenCorporates:

And Global Investigative Journalism Network (GIJN):


See it from the accountants’ view: pwc resources publications:


Ernst & Young: The African oil and gas landscape—Gas/Africa-oil-and-gas–a-continent-on-the-move—The-African-oil-and-gas-landscape


Africa Progress Panel:

Has policy briefs about resources in African countries


African Oil and Gas tax guide from PwC accountants: (2013)


Centre for Energy, Petroleum and Mineral Law and Policy (Dundee University, Scotland)

Policy, research and academic analysis.


EI Sourcebook:

Includes a lot of information about African mining industry


Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI):


EITI Ghana:


Global Witness just published a report on Uganda’s secret oil contracts:


GOXI (Governance in Extractive Industries)


International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM):

Groups together several major corporate players in Africa and further afield.


Intergovernmental Forum on Mining, Minerals, Metals, and Sustainable Development:


Natural Resource Governance Institute (NRGI) (formerly Revenue Watch Institute):

Non-profit with a presence in Uganda and a hub in Ghana. Analysis documents, and policy advice. Plenty of very interesting documents, including Tanzania and Uganda.

Examples include analysis of the leaked production sharing agreement in Tanzania:


Policy options for Uganda to manage petroleum reserves:


Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad):


Oil in Uganda: (Action Aid International)



Very highly recommended site with resources such as a downloadable guide to understanding oil contracts.


Publish What You Pay:

Campaign for transparency in extractive industries

And it has a map of which countries have contracts publicly available:

(E.g. Mozambique:


Resources Contracts:



Journalist organisations and codes of practice:


UK Press Complaints Commission: Editors’ Code of Practice: (this is being changed and updated, so the latest guidelines may not yet have been published)


Society of Professional Journalists (U.S.): Code of Ethics (recently updated)


Journalism resources/networks:

Some of these have advice handbooks, provide details of grants/funding possibilities and offer the possibility to link up with other journalists who could be helpful in collaborating, particularly internationally.


Centre for Investigative Journalism: (Plenty of very helpful resources, including handbooks)


Forum for African Investigative Reporters (FAIR):


Global Investigative Journalism Network (GIJN):

(Many links to resources that are of use in investigative reporting, including extractive industries)


Committee to Protect Journalists:

(Very highly respected organisation with online information resources for journalists, and which campaigns for freedom of information and the right to report everywhere. Highly recommended. Also has recommendations on safety etc.)


Institute of Financial and Economic Journalists (Ghana):


ICIJ – International Consortium of Investigative Journalists


International Journalists’ Network (IJNet):


Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (Germany): Manual for Investigative Journalism in Africa:



Tools for organising/analysing data:


i2 (now part of IBM)



To keep track of research and analyse documents etc.



To organise text, documents, pictures and video in the same place. Cited as a useful tool by Reuters TV trainers.


Information Innovation Lab

Our Mission

Investigative capacity training providing forensics, financial, cross-examination, data, and technological (information/security) training tied to practical d|StoryCamps.