The Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) recently hosted a live webinar under the title “Dominica: Passports of the Caribbean”. However, the webinar has drawn significant discontent and criticism across Dominica and the wider region.
As per the report by Writeups 24, Caribbean-based news organisation, the research of OCCRP has been surrounded by serious allegations of financial support. In the wave of inquiries, it was speculated that the organizations may have received funding from at least two Iranian and three Russian entities in the past one month.
The news provider also posted screenshots of transactions and questions raised in the webinar.
While complicating the situation further, the claims have once again cast doubt on the credibility of the report. It has also increased the demand for transparency and answers. As per the Writeups 24, the webinar has failed to answer many of the questions of credibility, raising mistrust among the minds of the public about the research organization conducted.
The webinar has further created a sense of suspicion as some attendees suggested that the number of funds received from these sources could be significantly larger than imagined. It has raised concerns about the legitimacy and integrity of the investigation of the organisation.
Even social media did not find clarity in the accountability and accuracy of the report and sought answers from the OCCRP officials conducting the webinar.
It was disclosed some screenshots show transactions made by Iranian nationals named Aziz Barakati and Asab Miri to the OCCRP on October 26, 2023, and October 23, 2023. These screenshots have begun disseminating widely in Dominica.
Writeups 24 also showcased the images, which went viral across several social media platforms. These images have confirmed the allegations that the investigative organization has indeed accepted payments from individuals based in Iran. It was also reported that the funding had been received by the organisation from at least 3 Russians within one month.
During the webinar, the officials of OCCRP were seen ignoring the questions related to the funding. As per the Writeups 24, they have been sidestepping disclosing their motives behind accepting funds from Iranian nationals.
While intensifying the suspicion of the public, the webinar has put the intention and activities of the organisation into the spotlight.
Notably, the news report added that the growing concern among the public made them post screenshots of the questions which were intentionally ignored by officials in the webinar, following the disclosure of unaccounted funding to the OCCRP.
In one of screenshot, the question was asked to the attendees,” You are investigating that many governments including Dominica should disclose or make their investment or donations transparent. But in fact, why does your organization, the OCCRP has no transparent funding system. There is no information from whom or how you receive the monies. Could you please explain this as many would be concerned about legitimacy of the funds generated by the OCCRP and why the organization is receiving funds from Russians and Iranians.”
The clouded controversy of OCCRP’s financial dealings has questioned the credibility and accountability of the organisation. The funding mechanism has now been put into the spotlight as the public has been feeling a sense of distrust with the dissatisfactory ignorance of the organisation.
As per the Writeups 24, the OCCRP- an organisation which demands transparency from other organisations in their funding mechanism, is now itself being questioned for its lack of transparency. There is no clear or transparent system in place to track the inflow of funds to the OCCRP.
Besides this, Writeups added that the report had not made their bank details public about where these funds were being diverted.
Further, the article of Writeups 24 also quoted the statements of the citizens. One of the citizens from Roseau, Philip Rodney added that it is suspected that the organisation has been accepting money from individuals with unknown backgrounds, and the information has been made public, raising great concern about its integrity.
It is also suspected by the new website that the OCCRP may intend to target businesspersons based in Western nations, spanning across European countries, the US and the UK. This is why the organisation has been receiving funds from Russian and Iranian sources.
Writeups further quoted the example of Indian business tycoon Gautam Adani, who faced a severe financial hit with the loss of half of his wealth, following a research report published by the OCCRP and its counterparts.
However, the twist has been made by the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) as they demanded concrete evidence from the organisation to prove their claims against Adani. While raising eyebrows, the OCCRP has failed to provide any substantial evidence in the case and refused to comply with SEBI’s request.
This has again cast doubt on the OCCRP and raised questions on its funding sources as the public became suspicious about the accountability of the organisation.
As per the Writeups, the organisations have been publishing articles encouraging the use of Virtual Private Networks (VPNs), while ignoring the facts that it the service of VPNs is banned in several countries due to security concerns.
The entire scenario has raised the possibility of the transfering of the funds into the account of OCCRP from the countries with stringent financial regulations such as as Iran, China, Iraq, Russia, or the UAE, using VPNs to mask the transactions.