Dear leaders of Western nations,
Russian elites and their accomplices in the West must face consequences for the violent assault on Ukraine and the suffering they have brought upon its people. To make them pay, it’s critical to go after the enormous wealth they have accumulated through corruption.
We see that you are now finally closing your doors to some of the most notorious Russian kleptocrats. This is not enough. You need to go after the money – money you should never have welcomed in the first place. You need to ensure that billions in dirty dollars, pounds and euros do not fund the war machine and act decisively to deter Kremlin enablers in your countries.
There is no time to waste. Countries in the West must take immediate action to find and freeze the illegally earned assets of Putin’s cronies. These yachts, luxury properties and other assets are deliberately hidden behind anonymous companies across different countries and continents. Kleptocrats are already conspiring with rogue actors within your borders to move their loot elsewhere, so they can emerge from your own targeted sanctions unscathed. We have seen this before.
You pride yourselves on democracy, law and order. And yet, for more than two decades, your banks, real estate agents and other go-betweens have promoted secrecy, broken all rules and lobbied hard to block progressive reforms. This was all to keep the dirty money – often acquired through corruption and violence – flowing from Russia. By doing so, they lined their own pockets at the expense of collective peace.
We see that in the wake of this unjustified and brutal military aggression, democracies around the world are finally waking up to the dangers of acting as safe havens for Russia’s super-rich.
To track down, freeze and seize their money and properties, we ask that you:
- break through the barriers to international cooperation that have rendered cross-border accountability processes slow and ineffective
- rally other countries to join you – especially those that are known tax havens
- oblige those with valuable information – such as bankers, real estate agents, brokers and wealth managers who service kleptocrats in your countries – to come forward
It is not too late to pass powerful anti-corruption and anti-money laundering reforms which have been shelved for years. Radical transparency measures will help your authorities to enforce actions that you have laid out, so you can hold Putin and his cronies to account. By doing so, you would be deterring kleptocracies elsewhere from growing their power and influence, preventing the kind of pain and misery that we see in Ukraine today.
Kleptocrats should have nowhere to hide, and no one to help them. Now is the time for the international community to step up its efforts and meaningfully counter this scourge.