A year ago, the term “kleptocracy” was relatively obscure and uncommon. Today it is a regular feature in daily press coverage, policy debate, and scholarly research.
Still missing, however, is a complete and honest conversation about the role of the West as an enabler of such grand corruption. Though we have begun to examine and quantify the systematic thievery of certain foreign leaders, we have so far sidestepped some of the hardest questions: How is it that a significant amount of the stolen money winds up in Western bank accounts? What does that money finance? Who else – besides the kleptocrats themselves – does it benefit? And how do the citizens of victimized countries now perceive the West as we simultaneously rail against and (some of us, at least) do profitable business with their victimizers?
For a closer, unflinching look at these crucial questions, Hudson Institute’s Kleptocracy Initiative was pleased to welcome the creators and cast of From Russia With Cash, a new British documentary showcasing the role of UK real estate agents in the purchase of London properties with corruptly obtained foreign funds. Our December 14 panel featured British author and journalist Ben Judah, Ukrainian investigative journalist Natalie Sedletska, and London-based anti-corruption activist Roman Borisovich. The event was moderated by Karen Dawisha, professor and director of Miami University’s Havighurst Center for Russian and Post-Soviet Studies, and author of Putin’s Kleptocracy: Who Owns Russia?