On the occasion of the U.S. publication of investigative journalist Oliver Bullough’s latest book, Butler to the World: How Britain Helps the World’s Worst People Launder Money, Commit Crimes, and Get Away with Anything, the author joined the Financial Accountability and Corporate Transparency (FACT) Coalition, alongside legislators and advocates from the U.S. and U.K., to discuss the problems caused by dirty money in the U.K. and U.S. and how to foster transatlantic competition to crack down on dirty money in both jurisdictions.
Bad actors beware – it’s #KleptoMonth again in Washington, D.C. In their announcement last Friday, the bipartisan leadership of the Congressional Caucus against Foreign Corruption and Kleptocracy (CAFCAK) joined dozens of civil society activists, the FACT Coalition among them, in calling for the rest of Congress to take action.
The FACT Coalition applauds the inclusion of $52 million in emergency funds for the U.S. Treasury Department as part of the appropriations package passed today by the U.S. Senate. Today’s vote sends the larger $40 billion Ukraine aid package to the President’s desk to sign into law, and will assist Ukraine in the face of Russia’s illegal invasion.
Casey Michel’s new book, “American Kleptocracy” (released Nov. 23), is an investigative look into how the U.S. built “the largest illicit offshore finance system the world has ever known” and how this system has “infected American politics, threatened US national security and gouged local communities.”
In a letter to Representatives Smith and Thornberry, the FACT Coalition endorses inclusion of the Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Rewards Act (H.Amdt.559) in the NDAA. Doing so would represent an important step forward in tackling foreign corruption by incentivizing whistleblower cooperation with the U.S. government.
Thirty years after the end of the Cold War, the world is once again polarized between two competing visions for how to organize society. On one side are countries such as the United States, which are founded on respect for the inviolable rights of the individual and governed by rule of law. On the other side are countries where state power is concentrated in the hands of a single person or clique, accountable only to itself and oiled by corruption.
Alarmingly, while Washington has grown ambivalent in recent years about the extent to which America should encourage the spread of democracy and human rights abroad, authoritarian regimes have become increasingly aggressive and creative in attempting to export their own values against the United States and its allies. Russian President Vladimir Putin and other authoritarian rulers have worked assiduously to weaponize corruption as an instrument of foreign policy, using money in opaque and illicit ways to gain influence over other countries, subvert the rule of law and otherwise remake foreign governments in their own kleptocratic image.
In this respect, the fight against corruption is more than a legal and moral issue; it has become a strategic one — and a battleground in a great power competition.
Yet corruption is not only one of the most potent weapons wielded by America’s authoritarian rivals, it is also, in many cases, what sustains these regimes in power and is their Achilles’ heel.