TRACE Foundation Announces Recipients of the 2021 TRACE Prize for Investigative Reporting

ANNAPOLIS, Md., June 25, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — The TRACE Foundation, a non-profit organization established to support projects that encourage greater commercial transparency, today announced the winners of the 2021 TRACE Prize for Investigative Reporting. The annual award recognizes journalism that uncovers business bribery or related financial crime.

Zorayda Gallegos Valle, a freelance journalist writing for El País in Mexico, won the TRACE Prize for her investigation that uncovered the Mexican Army’s scheme to divert at least $156 million of public resources through hundreds of shell companies contracted to complete infrastructure projects.

“I am grateful to the TRACE Foundation for supporting investigative journalism because it plays an important role in the transparency and accountability of governments worldwide,” Valle said. “Investigative journalism has become more relevant in Mexico and all over the world. It helps to disclose unlawful activities that authorities want to keep secret, and oversee their actions.”

The second recipient of this year’s TRACE Prize is the FinCEN Files reporting team, which included BuzzFeed News, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and more than 100 media partners. The team undertook a 16-month long investigation, reviewing thousands of financial intelligence documents. They uncovered a flawed oversight process that allowed global banks to profit from suspect transactions. Their reporting has resulted in new reforms and investigations in multiple countries.

“The FinCEN Files investigation exposed how some of the world’s biggest banks play an integral role in the global flow of dirty money,” ICIJ Director Gerard Ryle said. “Our findings have helped push forward important anti-money laundering reforms in some of the globe’s key financial centers, and this recognition from TRACE will help keep the issue in the spotlight.”

ICIJ also earned an honorable mention, along with the rest of the Luanda Leaks team, which includes FRONTLINE, the New York Times and 34 other media partners, for their work exposing the kleptocracy of Isabel dos Santos, daughter of Angola’s former president. They revealed how Western professionals play a vital, little-examined role in the blighting of the lives of countless Angolans.

Ferdinand Ayite of L’Alternative magazine in Togo earned an honorable mention for his Pétrolegate investigation, which found serious financial malpractice among Togolese government officials in charge of importing and pricing petroleum products.

“Even in the face of 2020’s chaotic circumstances, investigative journalists persisted,” TRACE President Alexandra Wrage said. “We commend the important work they do: their bravery, resolve and ingenuity. The TRACE Foundation extends its gratitude to our judges and admiration for our 2021 Prize for Investigative Reporting recipients and their important work.”

The judging panel for the 2021 TRACE Prize for Investigative Reporting included William Gumede, Diana B. Henriques, Rosebell Kagumire, Peter Klein, Donatella Lorch and Jorge Luis Sierra.

The TRACE Foundation will begin accepting submissions for the 2022 TRACE Prize for Investigative Reporting in the fall of 2021. For more details, visit

About the TRACE Foundation

The TRACE Foundation was established to promote, support and fund research, investigative journalism, publications, videos and related projects that encourage greater commercial transparency and advance anti-bribery education. For more information, visit