Kleptocracy Initiative

Kleptocracy Initiative

Hudson Institute’s Kleptocracy Initiative studies the corrosive threat to American democracy and national security posed by imported corruption and illicit financial flows from authoritarian regimes.

Subscribe to Kleptocracy Watch for a daily or weekly round-up of leading news and features.

Read our latest reports or scroll down for more research:

Authoritarian kleptocrats have misappropriated trillions of dollars from the former Soviet Union and other vulnerable regions. With the assistance of Western professionals, illicit funds can be transferred anonymously to more secure jurisdictions, converted into assets protected by the rule of law, then deployed to suppress scrutiny, undermine democracy, and erode Western soft power. This process relies primarily on weaknesses in the global financial system – weaknesses which the U.S. government could quickly turn into leverage over hostile authoritarian regimes if it acted to end corporate anonymity, tackle professional enablers, and build an anti-money laundering system fit for the challenges of the 21st century.

Advisory Council

Jack Blum is an attorney and leading expert on money laundering and white-collar financial crime.

William Browder is the founder and CEO of Hermitage Capital Management.

Alexander Cooley is the Claire Tow Professor of Political Science at Barnard College and Director of Columbia University’s Harriman Institute for the Study off Russia, Eurasia and Eastern Europe.

Diane Francis is an American-Canadian veteran journalist and author specializing in tech, white collar crime, geopolitics, and business.

Clay R. Fuller is a Jeane Kirkpatrick Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.

Adam Garfinkle is Founding Editor of The American Interest.

Jeffrey Gedmin is a nonresident Senior Fellow for the Future Europe Initiative at the Atlantic Council and a Senior Fellow at the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service.

Benjamin Haddad is a Research Fellow at Hudson Institute specializing in European and transatlantic affairs.

James S. Henry is an economist, attorney, and investigative journalist who has written extensively about global banking, debt crises, tax havens and economic development.

David J. Kramer is the Affiliated Senior Fellow at the McCain Institute for International Leadership at Arizona State University.

Michael Mandelbaum is the Christian A. Herter Professor Emeritus of American Foreign Policy at The Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies.

Casey Michel is a reporter with ThinkProgress who has worked as a journalist and researcher in both the U.S. and former Soviet Union.

Jonas Parello-Plesner is Program Director at the Alliance for Democracies in Copenhagen and a non-resident Senior Fellow at Hudson Institute.

Minxin Pei is the Tom and Margot Pritzker ’72 Professor of Government and the director of the Keck Center for International and Strategic Studies at Claremont McKenna College.

David Satter is a Senior Fellow at Hudson Institute and former Moscow correspondent.

Louise Shelley is the Omer L. and Nancy Hirst Endowed Chair and a University Professor at George Mason University. She directs the Terrorism, Transnational Crime and Corruption Center in the Schar School of Policy and Government.

Jodi Vittori is an adjunct professor at Georgetown University and the National Defense University, and an expert on the linkages of corruption, state fragility, illicit finance, and U.S. national security.

John Walters is Chief Operating Officer of Hudson Institute.

Janine R. Wedel is a professor in the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University, and an award-winning author who writes about governance, corruption, influence elites, and accountability in the West and eastern Europe through the lens of a social anthropologist.

Andrew Wedeman is a Professor of Political Science at Georgia State University, where he heads up the China Studies Initiative.

Kenneth R. Weinstein is President and Chief Executive Officer of Hudson Institute.

Michael Weiss is an investigative journalist, national security expert, and New York Times bestselling coauthor of ISIS: Inside the Army of Terror.

Margaret Whitehead is a Board Member of Hudson Institute.

Ilya Zaslavskiy is a Research Expert at Free Russia Foundation and an Academy Associate at Chatham House.

Remembering Karen Dawisha (1949-2018): Professor Dawisha was author of Putin’s Kleptocracy: Who Owns Russia? which exposed the Russian leader’s criminal origins and corrupt regime, contributing to a major shift in U.S. policy towards the Kremlin. She was instrumental in establishing the Kleptocracy Initiative at Hudson Institute and a founding member of its Advisory Council. She was a professor in the Department of Political Science at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio and the co-founder and director of its Havighurst Center for Russian and Post-Soviet Studies.

Policy Center News

Nate Sibley was quoted in National Interest about the FinCEN Files and global efforts to combat illicit finance.

The Kleptocracy Initiative was mentioned in Foreign Affairs about the rise of strategic corruption.

Kleptocracy Initiative was mentioned in The American Interest about its contribution to the future of anti-kleptocracy policies.

Nate Sibley and Ben Judah cited by The Washington Examiner for their report on Kleptocracy enablers

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) applauds Hudson’s Kleptocracy Initiative on CNN

Hudson’s Kleptocracy Initiative report quoted in The Atlantic

Nate Sibley quoted in The Wall Street Journal on anonymous companies

Nate Sibley interviewed by Democracy and Freedom Watch on Russian corruption

Nate Sibley quoted in Hrmodske International on Russian Kleptocracy and the UK

Charles Davidson quoted in The Washington Post on the use of real-estate to obscure the identities of the uber-wealthy

Charles Davidson quoted by The National Endowment for Democracy on the relationship between kleptocracy and authoritarianism

Charles Davidson article on global fight against Kleptocracy featured in The Hill

Ben Judah’s new report, The Kleptocracy Curse: Rethinking Containment written up in The Diplomat

Marius Laurinavičius quoted in Delfi on Russian foreign policy

Julie Davidson quoted in New York Times on why the recently-deceased Mikhail Lesin’s questionable investments weren’t ever investigated

Hudson’s Kleptocracy Initiative event with Dr. Mark Galeotti mentioned in Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

Event: Fighting Kleptocracy

Remarks made by Dr. Mark Galeotti at a Hudson event on Russia’s kleptocracy quoted in RFE/RL

Charles Davidson quoted in CNN on kleptocracies and autocracies




View all

In the Media

View all

All Commentary

View all

All Scholarship

All Transcripts

All Press