PRESS FREEDOM

Free press advocates call on Niger to reverse ‘disastrous’ fine for FinCEN Files reporter

ICIJ member Moussa Aksar was fined more than $2,100 following a complaint by one of the subjects of his investigation into a military procurement scandal.

Media defense organizations have called upon Niger authorities to overturn a decision that fined investigative journalist, Moussa Aksar, for reporting on one of the country’s largest corruption scandals.

A court last week in the West African capital, Niamey, fined Aksar more than $2,100 (1800 euros) following a complaint made by an individual who was mentioned in an investigation by Aksar into an alleged military procurement scandal.

“This decision is an encouragement to bad governance and an attack on investigative journalism in Niger,” Arnaud Froger, Africa desk director of Reporters Without Borders, said in a statement. “The message sent is simply disastrous.”

Last year, as part of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists’ FinCEN Files investigation in collaboration with BuzzFeed News, Aksar matched details of a leaked government audit with bank records to reveal fresh details about contracts signed with shell companies to purchase helicopters and other military equipment. The leaked audit estimated that Niger lost at least $120 million through falsified contracts from 2017 to 2019.

Niger authorities have not yet prosecuted individuals or companies exposed in the scandal, Aksar said.

Aksar, who is the director of Niger newspaper L’Evenement and an ICIJ member, told ICIJ that his lawyers will appeal the decision.

Moussa Aksar
MEET THE INVESTIGATORS

Keeping an ‘eye on the prize’ despite ongoing intimidation over FinCEN Files story

Sep 21, 2021
FinCEN Files
IMPACT

As reforms sparked by FinCEN Files roll out a year on, key source is behind bars

Sep 20, 2021
Abandoned buildings at Warren Steel, Ohio.
MONEY LAUNDERING

‘A Kleptocrat’s dream’: US real estate a safe haven for billions in dirty money, report says

Aug 10, 2021
FinCEN Files
AWARDS

Lessons from award-winning FinCEN Files and Luanda Leaks investigations

Jul 23, 2021
European Parliament and EU flag
FINCEN FILES

EU to propose watchdog to tackle anti-money laundering failures exposed by FinCEN Files

Jul 16, 2021
Reporters convene during a trip to Bermuda for Paradise Papers.
BEHIND THE SCENES

How reporting for ICIJ prepared me to become a certified anti-money laundering specialist

Jul 07, 2021
ICIJ is dedicated to ensuring all reports we publish are accurate. If you believe you have found an inaccuracy let us know.