There’s another disease epidemic across the world, whose effects are almost as widespread and costly in life and money as the Coronavirus pandemic. That disease is kleptocracy whose defining symptom is a government that loots the national economy to enrich the national leader, his family and friends.
There have been kleptocrats for centuries and they have always found people to help them execute the cycle defined by the writer Oliver Bullough as “steal, hide, spend.” Those people — the people who help corrupt politicians rob their constituents blind, sneak their booty out of the country and then bring everything back to life somewhere else as yachts and mansions, penthouse condos, paintings and jewels — those people are named by our guest today Frank Vogl in the title of his new book The Enablers. They get called out is in the subtitle: How the West Supports Kleptocrats and Corruption — Endangering Our Democracy.
The West, still preeminently the U.S. and the U.K., London and New York is the home base for the property agents and developers, lawyers and accountants, bankers and media manipulators that support and sustain the kleptocrats — and over the past 40 years, their rise to truly industrial strength has infected leaders of both countries.
Here’s an example of plus-perfect kleptocracy at work in the American White House. Former president Trump is on the phone with the Turkish kleptocrat President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Erdogan asks Trump to kill the prosecution of a friend caught sanctions busting, trading gold for oil with Iran. According to former National Security Advisor John Bolton who claims to have been in the room listening in, Trump assured Erdogan he would do that, even explained how, by firing the prosecutors and replacing them with lapdogs.
This never refuted conversation, national mob boss to mob boss, is what kleptocracy is all about: crime organized and executed by the government to benefit its leaders. This breakthrough case in the Oval Office is why kleptocracy should be considered a communicable disease.
Frank Vogl is the co-founder of two leading international non-governmental organizations fighting corruption — Transparency International and the Partnership for Transparency Fund (Frank is the Chair of the PTF Board). He teaches at Georgetown University, writes regular “blog” articles on corruption for theGlobalist.com and lectures extensively. Frank is also a specialist in international economics and finance with more than 50 years of experience in these fields – first as an international journalist, then as the Director of Information & Public Affairs at the World Bank official and, from 1990 to 2017, as the president and CEO of a consulting firm, Vogl Communications Inc. His new book, his third, is The Enablers: How the West Supports Kleptocrats and Corruption — Endangering Our Democracy.