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Report urges USA to intensify pressure to curb kleptocracy in East and Central Africa

March 31 - 2021 WASHINGTON
Officers display some of the cash hoard found at the residence of deposed President Omar Al Bashir in Khartoum on April 18, 2019 (SUNA)
Officers display some of the cash hoard found at the residence of deposed President Omar Al Bashir in Khartoum on April 18, 2019 (SUNA)

East and Central Africa—the deadliest war zone in the world over the past few decades—is a prime example of how mass corruption fuels conflict and how the USA and multilateral tools of financial pressure could save lives, according to latest briefing by The Sentry, entitled Using Financial Pressures to Combat Kleptocracy in Africa. In the briefing published today, Megha Swamy, Deputy Director of Illicit Finance Policy for The Sentry, Swamy details how the USA can use financial tools of pressure to revitalise its efforts to combat corruption, conflict, and mass atrocities.

“Illustratively, in South Sudan, Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and the Central African Republic (CAR), kleptocratic leaders steal public wealth and use extreme violence to quash democratic aspirations and human rights efforts. Their ill-gotten gains are moved largely in dollars and euros into the formal financial system, enabled by transnational networks,” Swamy asserts. “Disrupting these illicit financial flows can affect the cost-benefit calculations of kleptocrats interested in fomenting instability, undermining the rule of law, and capturing state institutions for their personal enrichment. Creating accountability for financial crimes can also weaken entrenched corrupt patronage networks and provide much-needed leverage for renewed diplomatic efforts,” he says.

“For these reasons, financial pressure tools like AML measures and network sanctions can be an even more integral component of the United States’ efforts to support peace and good governance in East and Central Africa, especially when part of a multilateral strategy. These tools, however, are not effective in a vacuum. They should be paired with renewed and vigorous diplomacy, robust efforts at multilateralism, and broader support to reformers in governments and civil society.”

The briefing cites that “US President Joe Biden has publicly committed to leading the fight on corruption and illicit financial flows. This emphasis, coupled with the sweeping new anti-money laundering (AML) reforms in the Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2020 (AML Act)—part of the US National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021—provides fertile ground for the United States to further expand and strategically deploy financial pressures as part of its broader efforts to combat corruption, conflict, and mass atrocities.”

Read the full briefing here

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