The Kleptocracy Curse: Rethinking Containment, a new report by journalist Ben Judah, offers a definitive account of kleptocracy as a pervasive global phenomenon and lays out the policies needed to defeat it. On October 20, Hudson Institute’s Kleptocracy Initiative hosted the report launch and an expert panel discussion on this insidious threat to democracy, the rule of law, and national security featuring Charles Davidson, Benjamin Haddad, Ben Judah, Karen Dawisha, Hannah Thoburn, and Thomas Firestone.
Many of the autocratic regimes threatening the U.S. and its allies are structured as kleptocracies. Criminal elites are misappropriating public funds and aid payments on a massive scale, undermining democracy in other countries by exporting corruption, and threatening global stability through territorial expansionism. Kleptocracies thrive on the vast shadow economy revealed by the Panama Papers and other recent scandals, and facilitated by unscrupulous lawyers, bankers, lobbyists, and other professional “enablers.” Despite this, our leaders have so far failed to recognize the true nature of these regimes and acknowledge Western complicity.