Open Secrets does specialised and evidence-based investigative research to uncover how private-sector economic crimes lead to human rights violations.

Current Investigations:

Apartheid Guns and Money

A Tale of Profit

South Africa remains a deeply unequal society battling the legacy of apartheid and the persistence of corrupt networks that seek to ‘capture’ its democratically elected leaders. In Apartheid Guns and Money, Hennie van Vuuren argues that in the absence of accountability, corrupt networks of the past stay in business. Rather than face justice, they invite members of the new elite to the table. In over 600 pages, this meticulously researched book finally lifts the lid on some of the darkest secrets of apartheid’s economic crimes, weaving together a treasure trove of newly declassified documents and eyewitness accounts.

Read More about the book, see reviews, download graphics and take action.

State Capture

The Conspirators and the Enablers
Open Secrets is has published two investigative reports on state capture:

1.Wanted: The State Capture Conspirators- The urgent cases we can act on now!

This investigative report traces the networks of capture and corruption at the Passenger Rail Agency of SA, SA Airways, Denel and the SA Revenue Service, and identifies the looters, fixers and politicians who should now be held to account.

2. The Enablers: The bankers, accountants and lawyers that cashed in on state capture

Co-authored by Open Secrets and Shadow World InvestigationsThe Enablers explores the largely overlooked yet extensive evidence of the role of the private sector “enablers” in state capture.

Digital Profiteers

Who profits next from social grants?

In this ‘data play’ nothing is mahala! The new frontier of the ‘digital welfare state’ poses new opportunities for corporations to profit from the data gathered from South Africa’s social grant system. This is a threat to social justice and the constitutional rights of people who receive social grants.

The investigative report, Digital Profiteers: Who Profits Next from Social Grants, focuses on how the digitalisation of state services offers opportunities for corporations to generate excessive profits from digital systems that can harm vulnerable people.

Profiting from Misery

South Africa’s complicity in war crimes in Yemen

Since the war in Yemen broke out in 2014, South African and global arms companies have cashed in on the sale of weapons to parties who are central to this humanitarian disaster. These firms have profited from the devastation of war and the resulting misery of Yemenis. Profiting from Misery: South Africa’s Complicity in War Crimes in Yemen, shows that Rheinmetall Denel Munitions (RDM) and other South African companies have regularly supplied Saudi Arabia and the UAE led coalition with weapons before and since the civil war started in Yemen. The evidence of these countries’ orchestration of* human rights abuses in Yemen, discussed at length in this report, is sufficient to show that weapons exports from South Africa should have been prohibited by the arms regulator, the National Conventional Arms Control Committee (NCACC).

Cancelled Pensions

The Bottom Line: Who Profits from Unpaid Pensions?

This investigative report is the culmination of a year-long investigation by Open Secrets into the pension fund industry in South Africa. According to the Financial Services Board’s 2018 Annual Report, over R42 billion in benefits is owed to over 4 million pensioners and pension fund members.

The Corporations and Economic Crime Report (CECR)

Editorial publication series

The Corporations and Economic Crime Report is a publication series by Open Secrets that delves into cases of private sector economic crime and corruption, and their impact on human rights. CECR explores the most egregious cases of economic crimes and corruption by private financial institutions, from apartheid to the present day. In doing so, we aim to highlight the key themes that link corporate criminality across these periods of time, focusing on the role of the private sector, which remains ignored in the debate around economic crime.

CECR volumes to date:

  1. The Bankers
  2. The Auditors

 

The Arms Deal and the Seriti commission

Arms Deal Facts and our litigation on the Seriti Commission

This is an information portal on the 1999 Arms Deal and the Seriti Commission established to investigate allegations of corruption in the deal. Here you will find the documents, investigations, and ongoing legal cases on the Arms Deal by Open Secrets and our civil society partners. This portal is the succesor to the defunct Arms Deal Facts website and houses all the documents and information formerly held by that website.

Declassified

Apartheid Profits

While researching Apartheid Guns and Money: A Tale of Profit, Open Secrets collected approximately 40,000 archival documents from 25 archives in seven countries. These records contained damning details of the individuals and corporations that propped up apartheid and profited in return. Many of these documents were kept secret until now, and most remain hidden despite South Africa’s transition to democracy. In line with our belief that this information should be scrutinised by the public, we published the Declassified series of articles on the Daily Maverick and News24 to make public the documents that informed the book.

Unaccountable

We have not forgotten

Unaccountable is an Open Secrets series published on the Daily Maverick. The series consists of profiles on large corporations and private individuals who are implicated in economic crime but have never been held to serious account. They all escaped substantive justice. The decision to focus on powerful private actors implicated in large scale political corruption,is a conscious one and mirrors the approach of Open Secrets. Many of the profiles are based on Open Secrets’ existing and ongoing research.