Note: This blog includes excerpts from the brief.
A new policy brief released today by The Sentry Policy Director and Enough Project Policy Advisor Brad Brooks-Rubin, “Yes, We Have Leverage: A Playbook for Immediate and Long-Term Financial Pressures to Address Violent Kleptocracies in East and Central Africa,” summarizes more than 15 different options that the international community, especially the U.S. government, can use to exert leverage on violent kleptocracies in east and central Africa through use of financial pressure tools and related diplomacy. It counters typical refrains often heard by policymakers in the U.S. and elsewhere, such as “We have no leverage.” “All of this leader’s money is parked elsewhere in Africa, in Dubai, or Europe.” or “Sanctions do not work.”
As the brief discusses, these strategies are premised on four key findings from The Sentry’s investigations, including that senior officials in East and Central Africa responsible for conflict and atrocities reap significant financial benefits from their business dealings in multiple economic sectors and through work with facilitators and enablers within the region and across the globe, and that these companies and their business sectors operate largely in the U.S. dollar, which provides the U.S. government with jurisdiction over many of the transactions;
“The United States possesses leverage against those who commit atrocities in East and Central Africa. We know that violent kleptocrats, warlords, and their business networks rely on the U.S. dollar when they move illicit funds. When they do, the U.S. government can act and have a direct impact through modernized sanctions and anti-money laundering measures. These tools have worked against other threats, and it is time they are deployed strategically to advance the cause of peace in East and Central Africa.” – John Prendergast, Founding Director at the Enough Project
“Yes, We Have Leverage,” details the what, why, and how on using various specific tools the U.S. has at its disposal, including the following:
Direct Anti-Money Laundering (AML) measures
Multilateral AML Measures
Finally, the policy brief recognizes that “de-risking,” or banks pulling out of an entire region or area to avoid possible penalties, is a real concern. To mitigate against that, Brooks-Rubin notes, taking any of the actions above should come with a clear message from the U.S. government that the concerns are limited to specific networks and patterns of conduct, encouraging banks to ensure that people in the region have access to capital and banking for legitimate purposes.