RUSI Launches Collaborative Global Project to Combat Illicit Financial Flows

RUSI’s Centre for Financial Crime and Security Studies (CFCS) welcomes ongoing cooperation with the National Endowment for Democracy, which builds on previous work on empowering civil society and journalists to combat corruption.

The new grant supports three complementary workstreams: the continuation of our project titled ‘Restricting Kleptocracy: Strengthening Monitoring and Accountability in the First Mile, and two new initiatives entitled ‘Countering Authoritarian Abuses of the FATF Standards’ and ‘The European Sanctions and Illicit Finance Monitoring and Analysis Network (SIFMANet)’.

The first phase of the Restricting Kleptocracy project engaged civil society and investigative journalists in Latin America, East Africa and the Western Balkans with workshops on anti-financial crime standards. The discussions unveiled several areas that could further support grassroots communities in holding kleptocrats and corrupt actors in their countries to account. The project will continue with a deeper focus on developing understanding of beneficial ownership transparency and asset recovery mechanisms, and how this knowledge can be useful for investigative and advocacy work. It will also aim to expand knowledge of the interpretation of FATF evaluation reports and country lists.

Countering Authoritarian Abuses

The findings of the Restricting Kleptocracy project demonstrate an interplay between the tactics of kleptocrats and autocrats: kleptocracy (and the laundering of its proceeds) erodes faith in public and democratic institutions, while autocracy paves the way for leaders to engage in kleptocratic behaviours. While appealing to internationally recognised standards provides opportunities for civil society to hold kleptocratic governments to account, the same norms have been weaponised by authoritarian governments to suppress their critics.

By supporting the use of the FATF standards to press for accountability, and by mitigating the capabilities of authoritarian rulers to co-opt those standards for their own ends, this project will equip a wide array of civil society actors with knowledge, resources and access to networks to aid in their anti-kleptocratic and pro-democracy efforts.

SIFMANet aims to safeguard existing financial standards and strengthen democracy against illicit finance with a focus on addressing the vulnerabilities in EU member states. This project includes a series of awareness-raising workshops and research engagements with think tanks and policymakers across the EU, taking advantage of the current heightened consciousness of illicit finance threats as a result of Russia’s war in Ukraine. This project will address not only the immediate Russia-related threats, but also the underlying systemic failings that persist in the EU’s response to illicit finance, and which thus threaten not only EU societies but also those globally that suffer as a result of Western illicit finance failings.

These new workstreams build on CFCS’s unique approach in working with local actors to affect policy change. They will draw on RUSI’s breadth of knowledge of international laws, policies and global anti-money laundering norms, with evidence-based research and practical implementation.

For more information, please contact:

Authoritarian Abuses: Stephen Reimer, Research Fellow, CFCS,

SIFMANET: Kinga Redlowska, CFCS Programme Manager Brussels,

Restricting Kleptocracy: Maria Sofia Reiser, Research Analyst, CFCS,

European Sanctions and Illicit Finance Monitoring and Analysis Network (Euro SIFMANet)

Euro SIFMANet brings together European research institutions to raise awareness and inform policymaking against the illicit financial flows that continue to undermine our democracies.

Restricting Kleptocracy

Empowering civil society and the media to tackle illicit financial flows in Latin America, East Africa and the Western Balkans.

Funded by

  • National Endowment for Democracy (NED)

    National Endowment for Democracy (NED)

    The National Endowment for Democracy (NED) is a private, non-profit foundation dedicated to the growth and strengthening of democratic institutions around the world. Each year, NED makes more than 2,000 grants to support the projects of non-governmental groups abroad who are working for democratic goals in more than 100 countries.

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