The Enablers: How the West Supports Kleptocrats and Corruption – Endangering Our Democracy (Roman & Littlefield, 2021, ISBN-13: 978-1538162828, ISBN-10: 1538162822)
Frank Vogl, the co-founder and former vice-chairman of the leading global organization fighting corruption, Transparency International, and the chairman of another, the Partnership for Transparency Fund, discusses the role of enablers in facilitating corruption, especially cross-border corruption. He discusses the key roles the enablers play in serving kleptocrats in many countries, including Russia, China, Iran, Egypt, Hungary, and Nigeria. He describes the enormous sums of government funds that have been stolen and laundered on a rapidly rising scale into investments in the wealthiest Western nations with the help of firms like Goldman Sachs, Deutsche Bank, BNP-Paribas, and HSBC, alongside leading law firms, auditors, real estate brokers based in the world’s major financial centers.
Vogl, who served for 20 years as the international communications advisor to the Institute of International Finance (IIF), the leading association of the world’s largest banks, and who also served as the communications advisor to the Group of 30 (the association of former finance ministers and central bank governors), uses first-hand experiences to tell the stories that demonstrate that the leaders of our financial system are failing to work in the public interest – too many of their activities add wealth, and inevitably power, to Putin and his cronies in Russia, and to other leaders who work to undermine Western democracy and challenge its security. According to Vogl, greed and short-term profit maximization dominate banking culture today with dangerous consequences.
Vogl develops examples from across the world to call for far-reaching reforms: from reforming banking and the sovereign bond markets, to enacting new anti-corruption laws, and, most importantly, substantially increasing law enforcement. He argues that the chairmen and CEOs of major banks that are caught laundering billions of dollars should be held accountable. According to Vogl, EU authorities should step up financial regulation. He underscores the need to expose and counteract the excessive influence of the City of London’s leaders on preventing serious investigations and prosecutions of their entanglements with foreign kleptocratic clients.
Vogl argues that, if President Biden is to be credible in his strategy to strengthen democracy and contain authoritarianism, then he must not only increase U.S. leadership in fighting corruption abroad, but he must also act urgently to contain the enablers at home. This book explains why and how several reforms can obtain powerful bi-partisan political support.
Vogl calls for the need for political leadership and multilateral action in the G20 and other international networks and formal international organizations.
On November 15, 2021, Global Financial Integrity hosted a webinar was held on the book. Participating were: Frank Vogl; Tom Cardamone President and CEO, Global Financial Integrity, moderator; Raymond Baker Founder, Global Financial Integrity; Zoë Reiter Director of Civic Engagement, Project on Government Oversight; and Alexandra Gillies Advisor, Natural Resource Governance Institute. One of the themes of the webinar was the need to underscore and reform the erosion of transparency plaguing the United States government.
Vogl in his book and during the webinar underscore the potential importance of the Summit on Democracy. On December 9-10, 2021, President Biden will host the first of two Summits for Democracy, which will bring together leaders from government, civil society, and the private sector to set forth an affirmative agenda for democratic renewal and to tackle the greatest threats faced by democracies today through collective action.
They underscored the need for a transnational approach and discussed the interplay of corruption, financial regulation, and climate control. Global witness has issued several blog posts on the role of finance and climate control. See, e.g., https://www.globalwitness.org/en/blog/our-verdict-cop26-compromise-catastrophe.
For persons interested in the contemporary links in the United States and internationally between corruption and reform efforts, especially related to the financial aspects, this book provides some incisive perspectives and solutions.