Trillion Dollar Scandal: The biggest heist you’ve never heard of

Trillion Dollar Scandal: The biggest heist you’ve never heard of

Twitter Image 2In 2014, we revealed a shocking scandal. Every year, more than a trillion dollars is siphoned out of developing countries.

A trillion! That’s twelve zeros: 1,000,000,000,000. Imagine what that could mean to countries working their way out of extreme poverty.

We’re not talking about international aid, which is making a real and tangible difference, but money taken from developing countries’ own budgets and economies. Shady deals for natural resources like oil and minerals; anonymous shell companies used to launder dirty money; illegal tax evasion: it all adds up to a global scandal that has to be stopped.

This money could be used to fund the fight against extreme poverty, disease and hunger. It would help developing countries become self-sufficient and no longer reliant on international aid.

Here’s Colin Farrell explaining it all in 164 seconds, with some help from a zombie.

So we launched a campaign to get world leaders to put an end to it, calling for new transparency laws in four areas that would have the most impact on corruption.  The G20 Summit in Brisbane, Australia, was the perfect opportunity for leaders to agree a way forward and crack-down on this scandal.

Read more about the changes we want to see in our Trillion Dollar Scandal report

ONE members around the world leapt into action. Over 88,000 people signed our petition, which we delivered to governments as they headed to G20 meetings. More than 15,000 people sent tweets and messages directly to G20 Finance Ministers ahead of their meeting as well. Our European Youth Ambassadors were out on the streets raising awareness and behind the scenes we were briefing policy makers and journalists, making sure our campaign was in the media and impossible to ignore.

Here’s a few of our favourite moments!

  • Brussels2 slide
    The ONE team in Brussels arrive blindfolded at the European Parliament to hand in thousands of tweets, calling for new transparency laws to tackle global corruption. Photo: ONE
  • UK YA TDS stunt slide
    Youth Ambassadors in the UK campaigning at the Conservative Party Conference to tell guests about the Trillion Dollar Scandal and ask for their support. Photo: ONE
  • Brussels slide
    ONE staff in Brussels hand over a suitcase full of tweets to the team of Jyrki Katainen, European Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs. Photo: ONE
  • G20UK slide
    ONE UK's Saira delivers our petition with thousands of signatures to the home of the Prime Minister David Cameron, just before he leaves for the G20 Summit. Photo: ONE
  • russian dolls ONE team slide
    ONE staff take giant Russian dolls to the European Parliament in Brussels for a debate about anonymous shell companies, and to drum up support for a new Anti-Money Laundering Directive. Photo: ONE
  • Tweet-delivery-Germany-copy-600x450
    The ONE Germany team surprised German finance minister Dr. Wolfgang Schäuble with a birthday present, as he left for the G20 in Australia. Along with a torch, to shine a light on corruption, we also handed over 1000 tweets.
  • Tamira-and-Claire-in-front-of-the-EUJunckerteam-banner-33-1024x764
    Tamira and Claire from our Brussels team handed over the petition to the team of EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, just a day before they got on the plane to Australia. Photo: ONE
  • anne-slide
    The ONE team in Germany visited the Chancellery in Berlin to hand over the signatures calling on Chancellor Merkel to stand up to money laundering and stop the Trillion Dollar Scandal. Photo: ONE

As the campaign gathered momentum, some countries stepped up and started to lead the way with new national promises for improved transparency. Good progress was made in preparation for the summit, developing new standards and principles which G20 countries would adhere to. But leaders stopped halfway down the road and missed an opportunity to fully close the loopholes that allow corruption to flourish.

Read our full reaction to the G20 Summit. 

This is a global problem needing global solutions and the fight continues. Right now the European Union are negotiating a new standard that could end secret companies all across Europe, the world’s largest trading block.

This is just one part of the Trillion Dollar Scandal puzzle, but means information about who owns companies and trusts would become public. And with it the identities of criminals who use anonymous shell companies, or phantom firms, to launder money. But some countries are doing all they can to protect vested interests and ensure we don’t get access to this information.

Take action: Tell European leaders to crack down on phantom firms.

Greater transparency and accountability is essential to tackling extreme poverty, so we’ll continue to campaign on this crucial issue.


Join the fight against extreme poverty


Join the fight against extreme poverty

By signing you agree to ONE’s privacy policy, including to the transfer of your information to ONE’s servers in the United States.

Do you want to stay informed about how you can help fight against extreme poverty?

Sign up to receive emails from ONE and join millions of people around the world taking action to end extreme poverty and preventable disease. We’ll only ever ask for your voice, not your money. You can unsubscribe at any time.
Privacy options
Are you sure? If you select 'Yes' we can let you know how you can make a difference. You can unsubscribe at any time.

By signing you agree to ONE's privacy policy, including to the transfer of your information to's servers in the United States.

You agree to receive occasional updates about ONE's campaigns. You can unsubscribe at any time.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply