Press Release / / 03.31.21

Report: Opportunity for White House to Counter Corruption in Africa

New Report by The Sentry:

As White House Takes on Global Corruption, Opportunity to Counter “Greed-Fueled” War, Human Rights Abuse in Africa


March 31, 2021 (Washington, DC) – A new briefing published today by The Sentry details how the United States can expand and strategically deploy financial pressures in East and Central Africa to counter corruption and illicit financial flows linked to human rights abuse, armed conflict, and mass atrocities.

The Sentry report, “Using Financial Pressures to Combat Kleptocracy in Africa,” comes alongside public commitments by the Biden administration to lead the global fight against corruption and its devastating impacts. Jake Sullivan, the newly appointed White House National Security Advisor, has stated that a priority of the US will be “to rally our allies to combat corruption and kleptocracy, and to hold systems of authoritarian capitalism accountable for greater transparency and participation in a rules-based system.”

Megha Swamy, Deputy Director of Illicit Finance Policy at The Sentry, said: “Creating accountability for financial crimes can weaken entrenched corrupt patronage networks and provide much-needed leverage for diplomatic efforts. Over the past few years, the United States has used tools of financial pressure like anti-money laundering measures and network sanctions to support its efforts to counter greed-fueled conflict in East and Central Africa, with promising positive impact. The Biden administration should expand the use of these tools, strategically deploying them not in a vacuum but in tandem with renewed and vigorous diplomacy, robust efforts at multilateralism, and broader support to reformers in governments and civil society.”

John Prendergast, Co-Founder of The Sentry, said: “For decades, diplomatic efforts to end war have been undermined by a lack of leverage to influence parties to choose peace. Billions of taxpayer dollars pour into these countries to clean up the humanitarian repercussions, while billions pour out in illicit financial flows. Unless policymakers address the underlying profiteering and kleptocracy that continually incentivize and refuel armed conflict, human rights abuse, and massive human suffering, the deadly status quo will remain. Deployed properly, financial pressure tools can provide the leverage needed to support good governance, human rights, and sustainable peace.”

The report highlights how East and Central Africa, the deadliest war zone in the world over the past few decades, is a prime example of how mass corruption fuels conflict and how US and multilateral tools of financial pressure, including groundbreaking anti-money laundering reforms in the Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2020 (AML Act), could save lives and support efforts toward good governance, human rights, and sustainable peace.

Key analysis and recommendations detailed in the report:

  • In South Sudan, Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and the Central African Republic (CAR), kleptocratic leaders steal public wealth and use extreme violence to quash democratic aspirations and human rights efforts. Their ill-gotten gains are moved largely in dollars and euros into the formal financial system, enabled by transnational networks.
  • Disrupting these illicit financial flows can affect the cost-benefit calculations of kleptocrats interested in fomenting instability, undermining the rule of law, and capturing state institutions for their personal enrichment.
  • Financial pressure tools like AML measures and network sanctions—particularly through Global Magnitsky authorities—can be an even more integral component of the United States’ policy efforts in East and Central Africa, especially when part of a multilateral strategy.
  • Financial pressure tools are not effective in a vacuum and should be paired with renewed and vigorous diplomacy, robust efforts at multilateralism, and broader support to reformers in governments and civil society.

Read the full report:

For media inquiries or interview requests, please contact: Madeline Robinson, Communications Associate,


About The Sentry

The Sentry is an investigative and policy team that follows the dirty money connected to African war criminals and transnational war profiteers and seeks to shut those benefiting from violence out of the international financial system. By disrupting the cost-benefit calculations of those who hijack governments for self-enrichment, we seek to counter the main drivers of conflict and create new leverage for peace, human rights, and good governance. The Sentry is composed of financial investigators, international human rights lawyers, and regional experts, as well as former law enforcement agents, intelligence officers, policymakers, investigative journalists, and banking professionals. Co-founded by George Clooney and John Prendergast, The Sentry is a strategic partner of the Clooney Foundation for Justice.