Kleptocracy: Its Global Impact on Markets and Democracy

February 8, 2023

Forum 2000, Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) and Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights issued the policy brief “Kleptocracy: Its Global Impact on Markets and Democracy”.

The negative impact of kleptocracy on democracy cannot be overstated. The systemic and systematic looting of public funds by kleptocrats undermines the foundations of democratic governance, by draining resources that could otherwise be used to support democratic institutions, such as the judiciary, the press, and civil society organizations. Moreover, kleptocrats often use their ill-gotten wealth to corrupt politicians, manipulate public opinion, and undermine democratic processes.

The link between kleptocracy and Russian influence in the West, especially at the time of the Russian invasion, is a prime example of the dangers posed by this phenomenon. The flow of money from kleptocracies into Western markets can be used to finance political campaigns, fund propaganda, and interfere in elections, thereby compromising the integrity of democratic systems and eroding public trust in government.

Therefore, it is crucial to address the issue of kleptocracy on a global scale, by implementing measures to prevent the flow of money from kleptocracies into Western markets, and by cooperating internationally to bring kleptocrats to justice. Only by decisive action can the principles of democracy be safeguarded and the security and stability of the international community be protected. This brief offers an analysis of the topic in the following chapters:

  1. The Scope of Kleptocracy
  2. State-Owned Enterprises Amplify Kleptocratic Behavior
  3. Corrosive Capital and Kleptocracy
  4. How to Fight a Kleptocrat: Investment Screening and Beneficial Ownership Transparency
  5. Comments from Forum 2000 network members from Africa, Europe, Latin America and Asia
  6. Summary Recommendations to Curtail Kleptocracy

Special thanks to the main author of this brief, John Zemko. This paper was also possible thanks to the contributions by Mutasim Ali, Abdulwahab Alkebsi, Alex Aparicio, Catherine Gibson, Eric Hontz, Rebecca Russavage and Brandon Silver as well as the commentators Mauricio Alarcón, Hana Lešenarová, Andréa Ngombet and Niranjan Sahoo.

You can also watch the conversation "Kleptocracy: a force against markets and democracy" with Jessica Ludwig, Andréa Ngombet, and John Zemko.

More information about the video is available here.