Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Want to Help Ukraine? Stop Accepting Its Stolen Cash

Note: This article is an abridged version of an in-depth report produced by the Legatum Institute and the Institute of Modern Russia, entitled "Looting Ukraine: How East and West Teamed Up to Steal a Country."

The papers are full of how Russia is undermining Ukraine, how it wants to bring its ex-colony to its knees, to bend it to Vladimir Putin's will. But they are only telling part of the story: Ukraine was already on its knees before the war in eastern Ukraine began, and that is as much the fault of the democratic countries in the West as it is of Putin. Britain, Austria, Switzerland, and Delaware, as well as the "sunny places for shady people" that we think of as tax havens, have allowed Ukraine's corrupt leaders to export embezzled money and to enjoy Western property rights for years. Officials looted so much that the country was on the verge of collapse even before Putin annexed Crimea.

Despite the political will shown at the Asset Recovery Conference in London this year, the chronic failure of Western regulators to investigate, monitor, or sanction the import of corrupt funds has led to a situation in which it is likely to take years, if not decades, to claw back the money stolen by ex-President Viktor Yanukovych and his "family."

When Yanukovych came to power in 2010, Ukraine became a world leader in funneling state resources into Western banks, legal vehicles, and property. Oleh Makhnitsky, who was general prosecutor during the London conference, estimated the loss to the Ukrainian economy during Yanukovych's rule at up to $100 billion.

Complete story at - Want to Help Ukraine? Stop Accepting Its Stolen Cash

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