The international standards regarding money laundering and terrorist financing are set by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), which describes itself as a ‘global watchdog’ whose recommendations ‘aim to prevent these illegal activities and the harm they cause to society’.
Yet various scandals such as the ‘laundromats’ of Russia and Azerbaijan – where billions of dollars were laundered into the West – have led to questions as to how effective these standards are in relation to illicit flows from ‘kleptocracies’, where the ruling elite controls, steals and profits from the country’s natural resources and lucrative businesses. Similarly, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has cast light on the billions of dollars of dubiously acquired funds stashed in London by the oligarchs and other financial supporters of Putin.
Can the FATF be effective in generating the necessary political will when so many countries rely on illicit flows, either to finance their economies or to stay in power? How could it be made more effective? If FATF is not the answer in curbing state theft, then what is? Does the solution lie in legislation or enforcement? This event brings together leading experts from investigative journalism, politics, academia and the anti-corruption world to debate these questions.
Author, Journalist & Oxford Martin Visiting Fellow
Oliver Bullough is an award-winning author and journalist, who specialises in financial crime and the former Soviet Union. His articles appear in the Guardian, the Economist's 1843 magazine, GQ, the Sunday Times and elsewhere, and he is the author of Moneyland (2019) and Butler to the World (2022). He is also an Oxford Martin Visiting Fellow on the Oxford Martin Programme on African Governance.
Dr Susan Hawley
Executive Director , Spotlight on Corruption
Dr Susan Hawley is an anti-corruption expert who has researched and campaigned on the UK’s role in facilitating global corruption for over 20 years. Her work has included taking the UK Export Credits Guarantee Department to court for weakening anti-bribery procedures, challenging the decision to drop the investigation into the BAE/Al Yamamah scandal, working to secure aid funding for international anti-corruption enforcement in the UK, and being part of efforts to ensure that corporate liability was included in the Bribery Act.
She is a founder of Spotlight on Corruption, having previously worked at Corruption Watch UK, The Corner House and Christian Aid on corruption issues.
Dame Margaret Hodge
MP for Barking and Dagenham
Dame Margaret Hodge has been the MP for Barking and Dagenham since 1994. A member of the Labour Party, she previously served as Leader of Islington London Borough Council from 1982 to 1992. She has held a number of ministerial roles under the last Labour Government and served as Chair of the Public Accounts Committee from 2010 to 2015.
Currently, she is chair of the APPG on anti-corruption and responsible tax, and campaigns for a clamp down on illicit finance and dirty money
Professor Jason Sharman
Professor of Politics, University of Cambridge
Jason Sharman is the Sir Patrick Sheehy Professor of International Relations in the Department of Politics and International Studies at Cambridge. He received his PhD in political science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1999, and his undergraduate degree in history and politics from the University of Western Australia.
Sharman’s research is divided into two main streams. The first is focused on the global regulation of money laundering, corruption and tax havens. The second deals with the international relations of the early modern world and the historical evolution of the international system.
Aside from his academic research, Sharman has worked as a consultant with the World Bank, Asian Development Bank, Financial Action Task Force, Asia-Pacific Group on Money Laundering and with a variety of groups in the private sector.
Professor Ricardo Soares de Oliveira (Chair)
Director, Oxford Martin Programme on African Governance
Ricardo Soares de Oliveira is Professor of the International Politics of Africa at the Department of Politics and International Relations, University of Oxford, Official Fellow of St Peter's College, and a Fellow with the Global Public Policy Institute, Berlin.
He is the joint editor of African Affairs, the journal of the Royal African Society. He is the author of Magnificent and Beggar Land: Angola since the civil war and Oil and Politics in the Gulf of Guinea. He has been awarded a Leverhulme Trust/British Academy Senior Research Fellowship for 2023-24 and is currently writing a book titled Africa Offshore.
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