Where do Russian oligarchs hide their ‘dark money’?



For decades, Russian oligarchs have moved billions of dollars of ill-gotten money abroad – to make it extremely hard to trace. Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, countries around the world have been using sanctions and new laws to try find this “dark money”, hoping to damage the oligarchs close to President Putin, the BBC reports:

US think tank the Atlantic Council says that Russians have about $1tn (£750bn) of what it calls “dark money” hidden abroad. Its 2020 report estimated that one-quarter of this amount is controlled by Russian President Vladimir Putin and his close associates – wealthy Russians known as “oligarchs”.

The National Endowment for Democracy (NED) says Putin has encouraged close associates “to steal from the state budget, extort money from private businesses, and even orchestrate the outright seizure of profitable enterprises”, the BBC adds, citing an article in the NED’s Journal of Democracy.

In the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, democracies have responded by proposing unprecedented sanctions of oligarchs living abroad who have begun to step down from long-standing positions of prestige as board members for businesses and cultural institutions, NED’s International Forum adds. Yet the challenge of reputation laundering and transnational kleptocracy is not specific to Russia. How can we extend the lessons learned from the current crisis to develop a full-spectrum response to the challenge? How can democracies ensure this extraordinary momentum results in lasting reform and not partial or temporary solutions?  Join a discussion on March 30, 2022 10:00 am – 11:15 am via NED’s YouTube channel.


Matthew T. Page, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

Tena PrelecUniversity of Oxford

Ricardo Soares de Oliveira, University of Oxford

Jodi Vittori, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace


John K. Glenn, International Forum for Democratic Studies


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