Governments failing to curb kleptocrats using Europe’s financial system says ECFR

Kleptocrats regularly exploit Europe’s financial system according to a policy brief published by the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR).

Over recent years, the brief says dozens of money laundering schemes linked to corrupt, abusive regimes have come to light across the continent, revealing limits to the rule of law within European economies.

The networks behind these arrangements have handled hundreds of billions of dollars stolen from public institutions and private companies, often benefiting from offshore havens across the globe – and even flows of European development funding.

Key findings

European governments have failed to prevent corrupt actors from laundering hundreds of billions of dollars through the international financial system and their own economies, says the brief.

It concludes that this breakdown in the rule of law empowers kleptocratic regimes across the globe, which capitalise on the political culture underpinning Europe’s approach to globalisation.


European policymakers should aim to catch up with, and overtake, their US counterparts on anti-money laundering regulation and enforcement says the brief.

It concludes that European countries should create national institutions – and an international coalition of Western states – that are dedicated to countering kleptocrats.

The ECFR policy brief, Networks of impunity: Corruption and European foreign policy can be found here

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