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Tackling Russian elite’s corruption

29 March 2021

Report by the Expert Group on Transborder Corruption in cooperation with the Netherlands Helsinki Committee

Transborder corruption is a massive phenomenon. The amount of money laundered globally in one year is estimated at 2-5% of the global GDP, or $800 billion – $2 trillion in current US dollars. Russia is one of the biggest sources of this murky money.

Consider for example the estimated 1 billion euros it cost to build what is often referred to as ‘Putin’s palace’. With its lavish and outrageous facilities, the complex has been dubbed as ‘the New Versailles.’ The question remains, who footed the bill for Putin’s playground? Large-scale corruption has long been an issue in Russia; however, the issue has not remained within the confines of Russian borders, making its way into Europe.

This Expert Group on Transborder corruption was set up in 2014 to take a closer look at the important ‘connection’ that corruption makes between Russia and the European Union. The Group  started off with a number of case studies on indications of how companies and individuals from Russia and EU member states were involved in forms of corruption. In cooperation with the NHC, the Expert Group has gradually shifted focus to the question of why, in so few cases, prosecution or other legal steps have been initiated in the EU and other western countries against those engaging in or enabling corruption, or those moving around or investing the resulting sums of money.

This report is a result of the effort to look into that question. It describes how information about chunks of money from the USD 230 million fraud scheme uncovered by Russian lawyer Magnitsky has not lead to effective legal steps in a range of western countries. It documents how a major Spanish trial for money laundering by Russians with well-connected mafia backgrounds did not lead to any convictions. It suggests that further development of non-conviction-based confiscation procedures in the EU could be a way forward in tackling the beneficiaries of transborder corruption.

Read the full report here

See below for a short video summarizing the report.