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Shadow World Investigations undertakes path-breaking investigations into cases of grand corruption, corporate malfeasance and militarism, predominantly but not exclusively in the global arms trade.

These case-studies are used to highlight the blurred lines between business and state, and to indicate the legal and political reforms that are needed to halt the corrosive impact of criminal and institutional corruption.

Latest News:

CAAT: New legal challenge launched over UK government decision to renew arms sales to Saudi Arabia
In July, the government resumed issuing arms export licences for use in the war in Yemen. UK rules explicitly prohibit the sale of weapons when there is a “clear risk they might be used in violations of international humanitarian law.” Violations of International Humanitarian Law by the Saudi-led coalition have been reported since the first airstrikes hit Yemen in March 2015, and they continue now. The attacks have killed thousands of civilians and targeted food production, schools and hospitals. Yemen’s devastating humanitarian crisis is also a direct result of the war being waged with UK weapons.

OCCRP: How Semlex and Gunvor Tried to Stoke Ivory Coast’s Civil War
Confidential documents obtained by OCCRP show how two multinationals based in Europe, Gunvor and Semlex, tried to help Ivory Coast’s former president obtain weapons — in violation of a UN arms embargo — as the country descended into civil war.

DECLASSIFIED: More than two dozen Saudi Typhoon pilots trained in Britain
Britain’s Royal Air Force has trained 25 pilots from Saudi Arabia to fly the powerful Typhoon jet and continues to provide instruction on using missiles involved in devastating attacks on civilians in Yemen.


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Projects and publications

Shadow World Investigations runs multiple programs and research initiatives simultaneously. Summaries of these programs and projects, as well as publications and content, can be found below.

Shadow World Film

In 2016, a full-length documentary feature based on Andrew Feinstein’s Shadow World was released to wide international acclaim. The documentary continues to be shown around the world, both at bespoke screenings and on major national broadcasters. Shadow World Investigations continues to work with activists and other groups to host screenings of the documentary to encourage activists to engage on one of the most pressing issues of our time. Go to the Shadow World Film Page

Challenging the arms trade and the militarism that supports it

The global arms trade accounts for around 40% of all corruption in world trade and is responsible for over half a million deaths a year. Shrouded in national-security-imposed secrecy the trade is conducted by a tiny elite of politicians, corporate executives, military and intelligence leaders, intermediaries and enablers, all of whom operate with virtual impunity. At the fulcrum of business and politics the trade undermines democracy, the rule of law and good governance, while making the world less safe. Our arms trade and militarism project aims to reveal the functioning of this secretive trade, and the militarist mindset that underpins it, in order to hold those involved to account and to advocate for a highly regulated, accountable broad-based approach to human and national security.

The State Capture Project

During the decade-long presidency of Jacob Zuma, South Africa’s fragile democracy was undermined and corrupted by a plethora of criminal actors. Foremost amongst them were the Gupta family, which used its influence and financial resources to capture major state companies and institutions, and to direct scarce public resources into their and others pockets. The State Capture Project aims to expose and elucidate evidence of this state capture, and to assist law enforcement initiatives in South Africa and around the world in bringing meaningful criminal charges against the perpetrators, facilitators and enablers of this exercise in grand corruption.

Project Indefensible

Indefensible: The Seven Myths That Sustain the Global Arms Trade, was published in 2017 by Zed. The book was conceived and executed as a partnership between Corruption Watch and the World Peace Foundation. Corruption Watch’s Paul Holden is the lead author and editor. Corruption Watch works with multiple international partners to raise awareness of the book and the issues it raises. Read the full text of the book, and more about Project Indefensible.

The Anglo-Italian Job: Leonardo, AgustaWestland and Corruption Around the World

Leonardo SpA, previously called Finmeccanica, one of the top ten largest defence companies on the planet, and partly owned by the Italian state, has over the past decade been embroiled in multiple corruption scandals around the world. This report covers the most egregious of those scandals and recommends action by multiple actors to deal with these issues.

Dereliction of Duty: How Weak Arms Export Licence Controls in the UK Facilitated Corruption and Exacerbated Instability in the Niger Delta

Corruption Watch’s newest report tells the story of how a a UK-registered company, CAS-Global Ltd, bought a second hand naval vessel (the KNM Horten), and exported it into the hands of a company controlled by a former Nigerian Warlord – via the UK. Based on newly obtained documents, the report reveals the reasons why the UK government approved the export license for the deal, and outlines why this decision was flawed. It concludes with recommendations as to how the UK’s arms export licensing regime can be reformed to properly take corruption into account.

Angola-Russia Debt Deal

Corruption Watch was approached in late 2011 with a significant cache of documents that provided insight into one of the most egregious cases of financial mismanagement and corruption.

Via the insertion of dubious middlemen, hundreds of millions of dollars were diverted from the treasuries of Russia and Angola (one of the poorest countries in the world) to the benefit of political figures and businessmen. Corruption Watch’s report on the Deal was published in April 2013. Corruption Watch intends to continue to advocate for renewed criminal investigations into the Deal.


Please note: due to public health concerns around the COVID-19 pandemic, our in-person screening programme has been postponed and will be subject to continuing government and world health advice.

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