Kleptocracy Initiative

Hudson’s Kleptocracy Initiative (KI) examines the growing threat posed to Western democracies by autocratic regimes. The Achilles’ heel of today’s autocracies is they are politically structured as kleptocracies, creating the potential to expose the massive and often hidden financial mechanisms used to shelter misappropriated assets. Today’s unchecked autocracies/kleptocracies are demonstrating contempt for international law, resulting in territorial expansionism and cyber attacks that seriously threaten US national security.

KI conducts original research on the financial practices of autocratic governments and their leaders, and works to design new and effective policies aimed at limiting the ability of hostile foreign actors to abscond with national assets and use those assets against both their own citizens and the United States and its allies. KI promotes its work through in-depth research, daily news updates, frequent briefings for policymakers and journalists in the U.S. and overseas, and on this webpage, which features a broad array of resources for policy professionals in and out of government—and for the public-at-large:

• A library of books and articles, and a database of primary documents
• Text, podcasts, and video associated with KI’s policy studies, meetings, and conferences
• Links to other organizations working on related issues

Kleptocracy Initiative Advisory Council

Anders Aslund is a Resident Senior Fellow with the Dinu Patriciu Eurasia Center at the Atlantic Council. He is a leading specialist on the East European economies, especially Russia and Ukraine. He also teaches at Georgetown University, and he has served as an economic adviser to several governments, notably to the Russian government from 1991 to 1994, and to the Ukrainian government from 1994 to 1997.

Dr. Åslund served as a Swedish diplomat in Kuwait, Geneva, Poland, Moscow, and Stockholm. He was a Senior Fellow at the Peter G. Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington, DC from 2006 to 2015. From 1994 to 2005, he served as a Senior Associate and Director of the Russian and Eurasian Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace while codirecting the program on post-Soviet economies at the Carnegie Moscow Center. From 1989 until 1994, he was Professor and founding Director of the Stockholm Institute of Transition Economics at the Stockholm School of Economics. He has also been a scholar at the Kennan Institute for Advanced Russian Studies, the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, and the Brookings Institution.

Dr. Åslund is the author of thirteen books, most recently Ukraine: What Went Wrong and How to Fix It (Peterson Institute, 2015). Dr. Åslund received his doctorate from Oxford University (St. Antony’s College) in 1982. He has a BA from the University of Stockholm and an MSc in Economics from the Stockholm School of Economics. His native language is Swedish, and he is proficient in English, German, Russian, Polish, and French.

Jack Blum is Chairman of Tax Justice Network USA. An attorney and expert on white-collar financial crime and international tax evasion, Blum spent fourteen years as a staff attorney with the Senate Antitrust Subcommittee and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He played a central role in the Lockheed Aircraft bribery investigation in the 1970’s, which led to the passage of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and in the investigation of the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI). Blum has served as a consultant to the United Nations Centre on Transnational Corporations and the United Nations Office of Drug Control and Crime Prevention. Mr. Blum often testifies about money laundering and tax evasion before congressional committees, serves as a qualified expert to domestic governmental agencies and provides anti-money laundering training to domestic and foreign governmental agencies. Mr. Blum is the co-author of “Financial Havens, Banking Secrecy & Money Laundering,” UNDCP Technical Series, United Nations, 1998. In addition, his articles have been published in a number of books, including Transnational Crime in the Americas (“Offshore Money”) (Tom Farrer ed., 1999). He is a former Senior Editor of Crime, Law and Social Change: An International Journal.

William Browder is the founder and CEO of Hermitage Capital Management. He was the largest foreign investor in Russia until 2005, when he was denied entry to the country as a result of his battle against corporate corruption. Since 2009, when his lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky, died in a Russian prison after uncovering a $230 million fraud committed by Russian government officials, Browder has been leading a global campaign to expose the corruption and human rights abuses endemic in Russia. Consequentially, the “Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act” was signed into US law in 2012, imposing visa bans and asset freezes on certain officials involved in Magnitsky’s death, and on other gross violators of human rights in Russia. Browder is currently working to have similar legislation passed across the European Union as a means to seek justice for Magnitsky and fight government-backed corruption in Russia. Before founding Hermitage, Browder was Vice-President at Salomon Brothers. He holds a BA (Honours) in Economics from the University of Chicago and an MBA from Stanford Business School.

Dr. Karen Dawisha is a professor in the Department of Political Science at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio and the director of its Havighurst Center for Russian and Post Soviet Studies. She has served as an advisor to the British House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee and as an International Affairs Fellow of the Council on Foreign Relations. Until the summer of 2000 she was a Professor in the Department of Government and Politics at the University of Maryland and had served as the Director of its Center for the Study of Post-Communist Societies. She was a member of the Policy Planning Staff and the Bureau of Political Military Affairs of the U.S. State Department from 1985-1987. She has had extensive overseas experience, living abroad from 1969-1983 in England, 1990-1991 in Egypt, and having done more than two dozen research trips to Russia, Central and Eastern Europe, and Central Asia, as well as with extensive travel to Europe and the Middle East.

Among several major publications, her most recent book is Putin’s Kleptocracy: Who Owns Russia? (Simon & Schuster, 2014). She graduated with honors in Russian and Political Science from the University of Lancaster in England and received her Ph.D. from the London School of Economics.

Adam Garfinkle is Founding Editor of The American Interest. Before founding The American Interest in 2005, he served from 2003-2005 as principal speechwriter to both Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice and Colin Powell. He was editor of The National Interest and has taught at the School for Advanced International Studies (SAIS), the Johns Hopkins University, the University of Pennsylvania, Haverford College, and other institutions of higher learning. Garfinkle served as a member of the National Security Study Group of the US Commission on National Security/21st Century (the Hart-Rudman Commission), and as an aide to Senator Henry M. Jackson. A widely published scholar, Garfinkle has received awards and grants from the US Department of State, the Fulbright Fellowship Program, the American Academy in Berlin, the German Marshall Fund, the United States Institute of Peace, and the Moshe Dayan Center for the Study of Middle Eastern and African Affairs at Tel Aviv University. His most recent book is Jewcentricity: How the Jews Get Praised, Blamed and Used to Explain Nearly Everything (Wiley, 2009). His Telltale Hearts: The Origin and Impact of the Vietnam Antiwar Movement (St. Martin’s) was named a “notable book of the year” (1995) in the New York Times Book Review. Garfinkle received his PhD in International Relations from the University of Pennsylvania.

Jeffrey Gedmin is Co-Director of the Transatlantic Renewal Project at the World Affairs Institute and Journal in Washington, DC. He also serves as Chairman of the Global Politics and Security program at Georgetown University, and as Senior Advisor at Blue Star Strategies, LLC. Additionally, he is a Senior Fellow at the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service Masters Program and a Senior Fellow at the Institute for Strategic Dialogue in London. From 2011 to 2014, Gedmin was President and CEO of the London-based Legatum Institute, where he was responsible for the Institute’s strategic direction, budget, board relations, fund raising, research, and programmatic agenda. Prior to joining the Legatum Institute, Gedmin served for four years as President and CEO of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. As RFE/RL President and CEO, Gedmin reported directly to the bi-partisan Broadcast Board of Governors, whose membership includes the U.S. Secretary of State. Before RFE/RL, Gedmin served as President and CEO of the Aspen Institute in Berlin. He was previously a Resident Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C and Executive Director of the New Atlantic Initiative.

He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the National Endowment for Democracy’s Research Council, the Board of Directors for the journal Turkish Policy Quarterly, and a member of the editorial board of the World Affairs Journal. In addition, he is a board member at the Institute for State Effectiveness and the Berkley Center for Entrepreneurship and Development, University of California. He has been an Honorary Professor at the University of Konstanz in Germany and currently serves on the board of the Masters Program of Georgetown University’s Foreign Service School.

Benjamin Haddad is a research fellow at Hudson Institute specializing in European and transatlantic affairs. A lecturer in international affairs at Sciences Po Paris, Haddad has briefed and advised senior French leaders on foreign policy issues. Haddad’s articles have appeared in publications that include Politique Etrangère, The American Interest, L’Opinion, Global Policy, and Atlantico. He holds an MA in international security from Sciences Po Paris and an MA in economics from HEC.

James S. Henry is a lawyer, economist, and investigative journalist. He is Managing Director of the Sag Harbor Group (SHG Inc.), and co-Chair of Tax Justice Network – USA. He is also the founder and Editor of SubmergingMarkets™, a web blog devoted to a critical analysis of political and economic development issues, and first-hand investigations. Henry’s articles on “financial investigations” have appeared in many leading publications, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The New Republic, Conference Board, The Washington Post, US News, Manhattan Inc., Harpers, The Washington Monthly, Fortune, Business Week, The Nation, Newsweek, Time, The Tax Lawyer, Jornal do Brasil, The Manila Chronicle, La Nacion, El Fi-nanciero, and Slate. Henry’s books include, with Paul Starr and Ray Bonner, The Discarded Army – A Study of the Veterans Administration and Vietnam Veterans. (NY: Charterhouse, 1976); Banqueros y Lavadolares. (Bogotá: Tercer Mundo, 1996); The Internet’s Impact on Financial Services. (NY: AT Kearney, 1999); The Blood Bankers (NY: Avalon/ Four Walls Eight Windows, 2003); and Pirate Bankers (NY: Avalon, 2007). Henry is an graduate of Harvard College (Magna, Social Studies ’72; Decatur Prize;, Chairman, Institute of Politics, Student Advisory Committee); Harvard Law School (J.D., Honors, ‘76); Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (M.S. A.B.D., Economics, ‘78; ABD – dissertation ’05). He is an Edward R. Murrow Fellow at Tufts University’s Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy and INSPIRE Fellow at its Institute for Global Leadership.

Andrei Illarionov is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute’s Center for Global Liberty and Prosperity. From 2000 to December 2005, he was the chief economic adviser of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Illarionov also served as the president’s personal representative in the G-8. He is one of Russia’s most forceful and articulate advocates of an open society and democratic capitalism, and has been a long-time friend of the Cato Institute.

From 1993 to 1994, Illarionov served as chief economic adviser to the prime minister of the Russian Federation, Viktor Chernomyrdin. He resigned in February 1994 to protest changes in the government’s economic policy. In July 1994, Illarionov founded the Institute of Economic Analysis and became its director. Illarionov has coauthored several economic programs for Russian governments and has written three books and more than 300 articles on Russian economic and social policies.

Illarionov received his PhD from St. Petersburg University in 1987.

David J. Kramer is Senior Director for Human Rights and Human Freedoms at the McCain Institute. Kramer was previously President of Freedom House from October of 2010 to November of 2014. Prior to joining Freedom House, Kramer was a Senior Transatlantic Fellow at the German Marshall Fund of the United States. Kramer served as Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor from March 2008 to January 2009. He also was a Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, responsible for Russia, Ukraine, Moldova and Belarus affairs as well as regional non-proliferation issues. Previously, he worked as a Professional Staff Member in the Secretary of State’s Office of Policy Planning, as Senior Advisor to the Under Secretary of State for Global Affairs, and served as Executive Director of the U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy in Washington. Before joining the U.S. Government, Kramer was a Senior Fellow at the Project for the New American Century, Associate Director of the Russian and Eurasian Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and Assistant Director of Russian and Eurasian Studies at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Kramer was a Lecturer in Russian Studies at Clark University in Worcester, MA and a Teaching Fellow at Harvard University. He also served as an analyst for the Christian Science Monitor Network during the collapse of the Soviet Union. A native of Massachusetts, Kramer received his M.A. in Soviet studies from Harvard University and his B.A. in Soviet Studies and Political Science from Tufts University.

William Luti is Vice President of Hudson Institute. He directs Hudson’s strategic planning efforts to shape and advance the mission and growth of the Institute. Before joining Hudson, he held executive positions in several private sector information systems companies providing a wide range of information technology solutions and services to customers. Dr. Luti served at the White House as the Special Assistant to President Bush for Defense Policy and Strategy on the National Security Council staff from 2005 to 2008. He directed the President’s personal defense staff and was responsible for interagency management for security cooperation, international defense agreements, cyber defense, national space policy, defense plans in support of military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, advanced conventional and nuclear strike capability, and defense transformation and force planning. As Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs from 2001 to 2005 he managed the Defense Department’s relations with 27 Near East and South Asian countries. He also helped devise the U.S. government’s strategy for the war on terrorism and the surge in Iraq, plan the worldwide changes in the U.S. defense posture, develop new U.S. strategic partnerships with India and Pakistan, and advised senior policy makers on Palestinian-Israeli peace diplomacy. Dr. Luti holds a Ph.D. from Tufts University’s Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, an M.A. from the U.S. Naval War College, and a B.A. from The Citadel. He was awarded the Ambassador Edmund P. Gullion Prize for academic excellence by the faculty of the Fletcher School.

David Satter, a former Moscow correspondent, is a long time observer of Russia and the former Soviet Union. He is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute and a fellow of the Foreign Policy Institute of Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). He has testified frequently on Russian affairs before Congressional committees. Satter has written three books about Russia: Russia: It Was a Long Time Ago and It Never Happened Anyway: Russia and the Communist Past (Yale, 2011); Age of Delirium: the Decline and Fall of the Soviet Union (Knopf, 1996; paperback, Yale 2001); and Darkness at Dawn: the Rise of the Russian Criminal State (Yale 2003). His books have been translated into Russian, Estonian, Latvian, Czech, Portuguese and Vietnamese. His first book, Age of Delirium, has been made into a documentary film in a U.S. – Latvian – Russian joint production.

John Walters is Chief Operating Officer of Hudson Institute, overseeing operations, including staff and research management. From December 2001 to January 2009, Walters was Director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) and a cabinet member during the Bush Administration. As the nation’s “Drug Czar,” Mr. Walters guided all aspects of federal drug policy and programs—supporting efforts that drove down teen drug use 25 percent, increased substance abuse treatment and screening in the healthcare system and dramatically dropped the availability of cocaine and methamphetamine in the U.S. He also helped build critical programs to counter narcoterrorism in Colombia, Mexico, and Afghanistan. From 1996 until 2001, Walters served as President of the Philanthropy Roundtable, a national association of charitable foundations and individual donors. His prior government service includes work at ONDCP, at its founding in 1989 as Chief of Staff, and later as Deputy Director of Supply Reduction. He was Assistant to the Secretary and Chief of Staff at the U.S. Department of Education during the Reagan Administration and served in the Division of Education Programs at the National Endowment for the Humanities from 1982-1985. Mr. Walters has taught political science at Michigan State University’s James Madison College and at Boston College. He holds a BA from Michigan State University and a MA from the University of Toronto.

Ken Weinstein is President and Chief Executive Officer of Hudson Institute. He joined Hudson in 1991 and was appointed CEO in June 2005. Weinstein was named President and CEO in March 2011. A political theorist by training whose academic work focuses on the early Enlightenment, Weinstein has written widely on international affairs for leading publications in the United States, Europe, and Asia. He has been decorated with a knighthood in Arts and Letters by the French Ministry of Culture and Communication as a Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. Weinstein graduated from The University of Chicago (B.A. in General Studies in the Humanities), the Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Paris (D.E.A. in Soviet and Eastern European Studies), and Harvard University (Ph.D. in Political Science). Weinstein’s articles and translations have been published by numerous presses, most notably, Atlantic Books, Lexington Books, Ratio Juris (Italy), Tokuma Shoten (Japan), and the Princeton University Press. He is the co-editor, with Paul Aligica, of The Essential Herman Kahn: In Defense of Thinking (Lexington Books, 2009).

Policy Center News

Charles Davidson quoted in CNN on kleptocracies and autocracies





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