The Rise of Kleptocracy: The Dark Side of Globalization

Issue Date January 2018
Volume 29
Issue 1
Page Numbers 25-38
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Read the full essay here.

Kleptocracy is a widely used but poorly understood concept, which different writers employ to mean very different things. This article analyzes the history of the word to situate the phenomenon it describes—egregious grand corruption—in the context of the birth of offshore finance in the 1960s. It describes kleptocracy as, by necessity, a crime that requires the use of multiple jurisdictions to hide crooked politicians’ money. Finally, it explains how greater transparency in the ownership of assets would enable the world to combat kleptocracy by breaking the pathway—steal, obscure, spend—that all kleptocratic wealth follows.

About the Author

Oliver Bullough is a journalist and the author of The Last Man in Russia: The Struggle to Save a Dying Nation (2013) and Moneyland: Exploring the Secret Country of the Very Rich (2018).

View all work by Oliver Bullough