Skip to main content
The Enablers:  How Western Professionals Import Corruption and Strengthen Authoritarianism
(Photo credit: Martin Poole)
(Photo credit: Martin Poole)

The Enablers: How Western Professionals Import Corruption and Strengthen Authoritarianism

Ben Judah & Nate Sibley

View PDF

Introduction

Globalization is playing out unexpectedly as governments, businesses, and individuals around the world are connected to one another at an unprecedented rate. These new connections were at first widely hailed as enhancing the influence of the United States, but their true political consequences are only just beginning to become clear.

One of the most important but overlooked dynamics, given its national security implications, has been the pervasive networking of American professional services providers with power brokers and their acolytes from corrupt authoritarian states. Certain elements within the legal, financial, and influence communities, seeking new markets, clients, and profits among an emerging global class of super wealthy actors with fortunes of dubious provenance, have in the past fifteen years begun offering their services to transnational kleptocrats linked to authoritarian regimes. From Washington lobbyists with Kremlin-linked accounts to New York law firms with Chinese Communist apparatchik clients, these tie-ups have a detrimental effect on the political and the financial workings of American democracy—one that is only growing.

This report argues that these professionals have become enablers of authoritarian influence within democracies in a twofold manner. First, they are facilitating the concealment, insertion, and deployment of kleptocrats’ illicit funds within Western economies. Second, they are using their skills and expertise to help kleptocrats establish networks of influence inside democratic societies. This relationship between Western professionals and authoritarian elites has not only fueled a boom in money laundering; it has transformed significant elements of the most distinguished, influential professions into wholesale importers of transnational corruption.

View PDF

Related Articles

Transcript: The Threat Posed by the Chinese Government and the Chinese Communist Party to the Economic and National Security of the United States

Walter Russell Mead & Christopher Wray

Following is the full transcript of the July 7th, 2020 Hudson online livestream event titled China’s Attempt to Influence U.S. Institutions: A Convers...

Continue Reading

Money Laundering Loophole Allows China's Shell Companies to Attack and Steal From U.S.

Nate Sibley

America faces a serious, pervasive and anonymous threat to national security. A top Pentagon official recently called it the “biggest concern [and] ...

Continue Reading

Transcript: Coronavirus and Corruption: How Kleptocracy Threatens the Global Response

Nate Sibley

Following is the full transcript of the May 18th, 2020 Hudson online livestream event titled Coronavirus and Corruption: How Kleptocracy Threatens the...

Continue Reading