The Kleptocracy Curse: Rethinking Containment


The Kleptocracy Curse: Rethinking Containment is a report by journalist Ben Judah. It explains how global corruption became a pervasive threat to democracy and national security, and recommends that the U.S. lead a new form of post-Cold War containment for kleptocrats.

Download the report or watch the launch event, from October 20, 2016 at Hudson Institute, with Charles Davidson, Karen Dawisha, Tom Firestone, Benjamin Haddad, Ben Judah, Hannah Thoburn.


The United States needs to start paying attention to what has happened to the world economy. Gigantic sums of money are now traveling the world incognito. This has turned globalization into the golden age of money laundering. Nestling in Western economies are offshore financial structures (and their professional enablers) which allow funds to instantaneously and anonymously jump between countries, empowering authoritarians and corrupting Western institutions. This now presents a growing national security threat.

Across the world, money laundering on an epidemic scale is undermining American foreign policy: crippling development, threatening democracy, damaging Western soft power and fueling state collapse. Across the West, this staggering flow of illicit funds has turned authoritarian kleptocrats into powerful players increasingly able to wield power inside Western institutions and game them to their own ends. There is only one way to block the illicit flows that empower kleptocrats and undermine democracy: Ending anonymous shell companies must become a national security priority for the U.S.