We used a visualisation tool called Linkurious that enables us to share and spot patterns that would otherwise be difficult to detect if just looking at tables and statistics. As is the case in many Global Witness investigations, our core dataset on Narco-A-Lago: Money Laundering at the Trump Ocean Club Panama was made of properties, people and companies that represented a complicated real-world network. This network had certain features that were of interest to our researchers. For example, we wanted to know which people directed the most property-purchasing companies and who else the companies were connected to.
In order to find this out and explore the connections in our data we used a database tool called Neo4J and an exploration technology, Linkurious. This tool stack was also used by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists to interrogate the data contained within both the Panama and Paradise Papers and now powers their Offshore Leaks site. While the dataset for Narco-A-Lago: Money Laundering at the Trump Ocean Club Panama was much smaller than either of these gigantic leaks, these tools helped us to do three things.
First, it enabled us to quantify and see how individuals of interest, such as Alexandre Ventura Nogueira, were connected to companies apparently used to purchase properties at the Trump Ocean Club, Panama:. Second, it allowed us to gain a different perspective on our data. Data visualisation has long been understood in statistics as not simply about generating pretty insights, but also integral to the process of data exploration (for those who haven’t seen it, Anscombe’s quartet is a wonderful illustration of this). Third, it allowed us to provide an interactive snapshot of some limited portions of our data when we published the report online: