Combating Transnational Kleptocracy

Transnational kleptocracy is the process by which corrupt rulers steal from the public purse and launder their illicit gains in the international financial system. These stolen resources are parked in outside jurisdictions—often democracies—where strong rule-of-law norms protect kleptocrats’ money and whose professionals enable the theft.

But kleptocracy is about much more than illicit financial flows. Kleptocrats use stolen money to target activists, destroy human rights, and undermine democracy. The efforts of frontline civil society activists and journalists are critical for responding to kleptocracy’s foundational threat to democracy.

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The Rise of Kleptocracy: Laundering Cash, Whitewashing Reputations

To safeguard their ill-gotten gains, kleptocrats rely on a web of transnational relationships and the complicity of Western fixers.

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Melissa Aten is a senior program officer at the National Endowment for Democracy's International Forum for Democratic Studies, where she manages the combating transnational kleptocracy portfolio.

Understanding Transnational Kleptocracy’s Threat to Democracy