June 11, 2021

US Helsinki Commission announces launch of Congressional Caucus against Foreign Corruption and Kleptocracy

On June 10, 2021, the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE also known as the US Helsinki Commission) announced the launch of the Congressional Caucus against Foreign Corruption and Kleptocracy by Representatives Tom Malinowski (D-NJ), John Curtis (R-UT), Bill Keating (D-MA), and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), aimed at identifying bipartisan opportunities for members of Congress to work together to curb the efforts of kleptocrats, authoritarian government leaders who use their political power to exploit and/or steal their national resources for self-enrichment or to maintain political power at the expense of their citizens.

The caucus was launched just over a week after President Biden issued a memorandum making the fight against corruption a core US national security interest, and only days after the Attorney General Merrick Garland announced on June 7, 2021 that the Department of Justice, in conjunction with the Department of Homeland Security, established a joint task force to combat corruption in Central America. 

According to Malinowski, he and John Curtis introduced the Justice for Victims of Kleptocracy Act of 2021 in the House as part of Counter-Kleptocracy Month, as the first bill in a series of provisions presented by the new anti-corruption caucus, that would require the Department of Justice to publish to its website the amount of property forfeited to the US as the result of international corruption, with the goal of returning forfeited funds to the lawful owners.  Malinowski indicated that the new legislation follows President Biden’s anti-corruption plan and will hold leaders like Vladamir Putin, Nicholas Maduro, or Daniel Ortega accountable by providing a public accounting of amounts potentially stolen from their countries that the US might be able to recover, while also publicly identifying the victims of any stolen funds.  US Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) introduced companion legislation in the Senate.

CSCE Press Release | Malinowski Press Release | Rubio Press Release | Justice for Victims of Kleptocracy Act of 2021 | DOJ Press Release | President Biden’s National Security Study Memorandum