Democracy’s multitrillion-dollar problem



It’s obvious by now: sanctions on Russia haven’t lived up to expectations, says analyst Ben Judah. Russia has proved much more adept at evading sanctions because it is manipulating something decades of Anglo-American policymakers have chosen to ignore, but kleptocrats are quick to exploit – financial secrecy.

It’s an issue addressed by Raymond Baker in Invisible Trillions: How Financial Secrecy Is Imperiling Capitalism and Democracy and the Way to Renew Our Broken System, he writes for The New Statesman.

Kleptocracy and financial secrecy are democracy’s multitrillion-dollar problem—we cannot afford to ignore it. That makes Baker’s Invisible Trillions essential reading for anyone truly interested in saving democracy from the predations of kleptocracy and plutocracy, Charles Davidson wrote for The Journal of Democracy.

Only radical improvements across the globe in financial transparency and accountability and in regulatory capacity and integrity can break this cycle of political decay and despair, Stanford’s Larry Diamond writes in the book’s foreword.

In Baker’s view, democracy is self-correcting, but capitalism is not. His main message is: reform capitalism or forfeit democracy, University of the Witwatersrand’s writes for The Conversation.

Quite refreshingly, despite amassing quite a bit of evidence about the scale and spread of commercial evasions, criminal behaviour or corrupt practices, Baker offers prescriptions about what can be done to stop this tidal wave. He strongly believes that political action can be impactful in stopping the financial secrecy system in its tracks given for instance the way the US Patriot Act put an end to the existence of shell banks, adds Adeyemi Dipeolu, former head of the Secretariat of the High-Level Panel on Illicit Financial Flows.

As part of the second Summit for Democracy, an event—chaired by U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen—will bring together leaders from government, civil society, and international organizations to discuss the centrality of countering corruption and illicit finance to upholding the rule of law, promoting good governance, and ensuring an equal economic playing field. The event will be held in the Cash Room of the Main Treasury building.  

Date: Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Time: 10:30 AM – 12:00 PM

Doors Open: 9:00 a.m. Please allow time for Covid testing and security screening. Details can be found on the following tabs.

You must register for this event and invitations are non-transferrable. Due to security requirements, only registered guests will be permitted entry into the Treasury Department building. For any questions, please contact Samuel Barnett ( RSVP

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