Background Briefing: October 20, 2021


Why the U.S. is the Kleptocrats’ Preferred Destination to Launder Billions

We begin with Tuesday’s FBI raid on the Washington D.C. mansion of a Oleg Derepaska, an oligarch close to Putin, and discuss the broader issues of why the U.S. is the preferred destination for dirty overseas kleptocratic riches that are laundered through prestigious law firms like Baker McKenzie using shell companies in Delaware, Nevada and South Dakota to end up cleaned as investments in luxury real estate etc. Joining us is Casey Michel, a journalist who is a member of the advisory council for the Hudson Institute’s Kleptocracy Initiative, and has contributed research pertaining to kleptocracy, offshoring, illicit finance, and foreign interference to the German Marshall Fund, the Human Rights Foundation, and others. He is the author of the new book, out soon, American Kleptocracy: How the U.S. Created the World’s Greatest Money Laundering Scheme in History, and he has an article at The New Republic, “American Law Firms Are Enabling Foreign Kleptocrats.” We examine recent legislation like the ENABLERS Act which would force American lawyers to comply with basic anti–money laundering regulations in order to deal with the world of dirty offshore money that comprises about 10% of global GDP, and bipartisan efforts by Senators Menendez and Cotton to staunch the flow of ill-gotten gains into the United States.


Is the Secretary of Defense Opening the Door for Ukraine to Enter NATO?

Then, with Defense Secretary Austin in Ukraine on Tuesday announcing that Russia has no say in Ukraine becoming a member of NATO, we speak with David Faris, a professor of political science at Roosevelt University in Chicago whose latest book is The Kids Are All Left: How Young Voters Will Unite America about his article at The Week, “The Madness of Expanding NATO: This is a door the Biden administration ought to keep closed.” 


Coal Makes a Comeback as Manchin Blocks Clean Alternatives

Then finally with coal making a comeback due to rising natural gas prices and West Virginia’s Senator Manchin demanding Democrats strip out from the reconciliation bill now being negotiated between the White House and moderates and progressives Democrats, the Clean Electricity Performance Program (CEPP), a policy designed to drive down power sector carbon emissions, we speak with Rachel Cleetus, the policy director with the Climate and Energy Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists. She is also an expert on the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change process and has been attending international climate negotiations since 2009, and has an article at the Union of Concerned Scientists, “Don’t Blow Up Our Future, Senator Manchin!”