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May 3, 2023 (Hiroshima / Washington, DC) — In advance of the G7 Hiroshima Summit set to begin later this month, The Sentry is urging the G7 member states to focus their attention on tackling the vicious cycle of kleptocracy and atrocities around the world. The G7 should uphold its principles of open democracy, international rules-based order, and human rights by adopting hard-hitting new policies and legislation that target kleptocratic leaders and perpetrators of conflict where it hurts the most—their pocketbooks.
Justyna Gudzowska, Director of Illicit Finance Policy at The Sentry, said: “Russia’s unprovoked war against Ukraine resulted in an international coalition imposing unprecedented sanctions and other financial measures to disrupt and degrade Moscow’s war machine. This effort created an opening for jurisdictions to take stock of—and enhance—the tools of financial pressure in their arsenal. Now is not the time to get complacent, however, as significant gaps remain. G7 members need to continue to sharpen the tools at their disposal so they can more effectively counter violent kleptocracies from Russia, to Sudan, to Myanmar.”
Denisse Rudich, Senior Advisor to The Sentry, said: “G7 leadership is more essential today than ever as crises are fueled around the world by violent kleptocrats and their financial and military enablers, such as the Wagner Group, seeking to gain power and expand their empires and personal wealth. The G7 brings together like-minded members who protect human rights, democracy, and the rules-based international order. It is essential that the G7 and its partners step up pressure to address the impunity of these actors and change their warped incentives by using the many tools at their disposal, including tools of financial pressure, in novel ways.”
The Sentry recommends that the G7 take the following concerted actions:
1. All G7 members should take steps to ensure that they have robust financial tools of pressure to counter human rights abuses and large-scale corruption wherever it occurs. Russia’s unprovoked war against Ukraine, the Myanmar junta’s increasingly horrific brutality against civilians, and the recent deadly conflict in Sudan have laid bare the risks posed by unchecked violent kleptocracies. In this context of intensifying geopolitical challenges, G7 members should take action to update relevant frameworks and legislation to allow them to apply targeted sanctions measures to tackle human rights abuses and corruption (known as Global Magnitsky-style sanctions) where these are not in place. In particular, as the host of this year’s G7 Hiroshima Summit, Japan should take the opportunity to commit to adopt the legislation needed to trigger sanctions for egregious violations of human rights and grand corruption. Although the European Union (EU) has already adopted a human rights sanctions regime, it should act urgently to add a global anti-corruption sanctions framework to its toolkit.
Furthermore, G7 members should take lessons learned from the multilateral Russian Elites, Proxies, and Oligarchs (REPO) Task Force and coordinate measures to freeze or seize assets linked not only to those sanctioned in connection with Russia’s war against Ukraine but also to anyone sanctioned in relation to human rights abuses and corruption more broadly. Coordinated action would enable G7 jurisdictions to shut perpetrators of gross human rights abuses and kleptocrats out of the global financial system.
2. The G7 should prioritize fighting money laundering linked to war crimes and atrocities. G7 members should encourage the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) to explore a typologies report on money laundering linked to war crimes and atrocities so as to better understand international financial flows and threats, with a particular focus on the mercenary Wagner Group. Such a typologies report would serve to protect the integrity of the global financial system and ensure robust implementation of FATF Standards.
The G7 should also call on jurisdictions to update legislation to include war crimes as a predicate offense for money laundering, which would trigger all current anti-money laundering requirements applicable to regulated entities and designated non-financial businesses and professions to address the financing of war crimes and atrocities being committed by the Wagner Group.
3. G7 members should use domestic authorities to designate the Wagner Group as terrorist organization. This would equip like-minded jurisdictions with a more robust set of tools to starve the mercenary Wagner Group, which has been perpetrating atrocities around the world, of resources and constrain its ability to spread its global footprint. It could make it easier to prosecute the group’s enablers, including individuals and entities, wherever they may be located; enhance information among like-minded states; and serve as a powerful deterrent for any governments, entities, or individuals that contemplate working with Wagner. Every effort should be made to mitigate the potential humanitarian consequences of such designations through carve-outs and general licenses.
4. The G7 should establish a coalition of like-minded jurisdictions to counter the malign activities of the Wagner Group around the world. This coalition should include G7 members, African states, and other like-minded jurisdictions and focus on four pillars:
5. G7 members should adopt coordinated sanctions and bans related to Russian diamonds in order to cut off a significant source of funding for Russia and an avenue for sanctions evasion. G7 jurisdictions, including the EU, should work with international partners to adopt a ban on Russian-origin diamonds, both polished and rough, as well as a cohesive and aligned set of principles to improve traceability measures for such diamonds in order to identify and segregate Russian-origin diamonds and provide the industry with tools to help prevent the circumvention of sanctions. In addition, G7 members and partners should coordinate targeted sanctions related to Russia and Wagner Group affiliated diamond companies and their networks all over the globe. Implementing a coordinated ban on Russian diamonds, both rough and polished, accompanied by targeted designations, will improve the ability to effectively disrupt this billion-dollar revenue stream for Russia.
6. The G7 should strongly condemn the violence in Sudan and impose targeted network sanctions on the military leaders of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) and the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF), their corporate networks, and the enablers responsible for the resurgent conflict. The G7 should take strong coordinated action to cut off financial flows for persons that use state power and resources to enrich themselves, which has led to the recent conflict. It is essential that G7 members use escalating and multilateral financial measures as leverage to try to prevent the conflict from intensifying and to alter the perverse incentive structure for the leaders of the RSF and SAF, as well as their enablers, who have financially benefitted from human suffering and corruption for too long.
7. G7 members should coordinate on a decisive and forceful response to the ongoing crisis in Myanmar.G7 jurisdictions should condemn the ongoing violence perpetrated by the military junta against civilians and apply financial tools of pressure against the junta and its enablers. Targeted network sanctions should seek to disrupt the ability of the military regime to earn foreign currency and to purchase items such as weapons and jet fuel that are crucial to the brutal war it wages against its own people. G7 financial regulators and financial intelligence units should work with their financial institutions, which act as gatekeepers to protecting the integrity of the international financial system, to identify arms sales and transactions that could benefit the military and its leaders, while still allowing for humanitarian aid to flow into Myanmar. In parallel, G7 governments should coordinate with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and the United Nations to ensure that humanitarian aid is delivered to all beneficiaries in ways that do not benefit the junta.
For media inquiries or interview requests, please contact: Greg Hittelman, Director of Communications, gh@thesentry.
About The Sentry
(Short descriptor for press use: “The Sentry, an investigative organization that tracks corruption”)
The Sentry is an investigative and policy organization that seeks to disable multinational predatory networks that benefit from violent conflict, repression, and kleptocracy. Pull back the curtain on wars, mass atrocities, and other human rights abuses, and you’ll find grand corruption and unchecked greed. These tragedies persist because the perpetrators rarely face meaningful consequences. The Sentry aims to alter the warped incentive structures that continually undermine peace and good governance. Our investigations follow the money as it is laundered from war zones to financial centers around the world. We provide evidence and strategies for governments, banks, and law enforcement to hold the perpetrators and enablers of violence and corruption to account. These efforts provide new leverage for human rights, peace, and anti-corruption efforts.
Learn more at TheSentry.org