Investigating Officials: Investigate intermediaries

In the course of its many investigations, the PCIJ has come across the role played by intermediaries — either middlemen or brokers — in corrupt transactions. A company or individual that does business with the government or is subject to official regulation inevitably searches for connections to the powerful. For this reason, a network of intermediaries or intercessors sooner or later forms around a wielder of power or an interpreter of government rules, be he or she a mayor, police chief, district highways supervisor, or even a Supreme Court justice.

Very often private individuals do not transact directly with officials. Litigants and lawyers, for example, may go through the clerk of court or other members of the judicial staff. Public works contractors rarely meet with congressmen themselves when they try to negotiate a slice of pork barrel funds; they deal with congressional staff. Demands for payoffs, commissions, or grease money are sometimes coursed through trusted relatives, who are also sometimes employed as secretaries, chiefs of staff, or consultants of officials. Following the trail of corruption, therefore, entails unraveling the network of intermediaries and brokers that surround a corrupt official.

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