Monday 22nd April 2019
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The Rise of Kleptocracy: Laundering Cash, Whitewashing Reputations

Kleptocracy and grand corruption are now under scrutiny as never before. With renewed global attention on these abuses, a relatively clear picture has emerged of the domestic political economies shaped by kleptocratic rule. Analysts have shown how state institutions are set up to allow elites and their families to systematically loot, while protecting these elites politically.

In particular, this research has placed under the microscope the resource-rich countries that are vulnerable to kleptocratic state capture.

Yet to understand the operations of today’s jet-setting kleptocrats, one must look beyond the borders of the polities they despoil. Copious news items feature kleptocrats and their families purchasing luxurious penthouses and cars; attending international cultural galas and charitable initiatives; and enlisting Western agents, lawyers, spokes-people, and pillars of the establishment to whitewash their reputations.

Watchdogs and policy makers are beginning to turn their attention to the wide range of kleptocratic activity that takes place in the West itself—whether this entails

  • Equatorial Guinea’s vice-president standing trial in France for corruption,
  • the former president of Uzbekistan’s daughter facing investigations for money laundering in a half-dozen countries, or
  • the Malaysian prime minister under suspicion in connection with the diversion of more than US$4.5 billion from his country’s sovereign wealth fund into personal bank accounts around the world.

Conceptual analysis explaining how these pieces fit together, however, remains scarce…. read more here


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