With investigative reports focusing greater attention on the lavish lifestyles and illicit finances of certain states’ officials and oligarchs, the term “kleptocracy” has become a regular feature of analysis. In the January 2018 issue of the Journal of Democracy, Christopher Walker and Melissa Aten introduce a multi-article examination of a kleptocratic resurgence that reaches from Russia to Malaysia to Equatorial Guinea, and one that poses increasing risk to democracy. Laundering both ill-gotten gains through the global financial system and their reputations through the services of “enablers” in the West, kleptocrats have found ways to successfully game the global system. In today’s era of accelerated globalization, the factors driving kleptocracy have gathered force. The world now confronts “kleptocracy 2.0,” a multifaceted threat to democracy that requires a coordinated and sophisticated transnational response.
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