A blog by Meraal Hakeem, a law student at the Arizona State University who is undertaking a legal research internship at the Basel Institute on Governance.

In the aftermath of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the United States’ Department of Justice launched “Task Force KleptoCapture” in March 2022 to enhance its capacity to enforce sanctions and target assets suspected of bolstering the Russian regime.

As the war in Ukraine intensifies, calls are growing for states to confiscate Russian assets frozen under sanctions and redirect them to provide support to Ukraine. Our latest Working Paper argues that states can and should do this by enhancing the effectiveness and scope of established asset recovery measures​​​​ – not by introducing new untested mechanisms that risk inviting future legal challenges, defeating the purpose of sanctions and violating the rule of law. 

Written in the light of Russia's war of aggression in Ukraine, this Working Paper explores whether it is justifiable to confiscate assets frozen under financial sanctions in order to redirect them to the victims of state aggression. 

The paper first explores the concept of sanctions and financial sanctions (asset freezes) and what they mean in practice.

The crypto industry has exploded in recent years, and authorities in different countries have been reacting in very different ways. Some have banned cryptocurrencies, while others are embracing them to varying degrees. Some are working hard to align their anti-money laundering regulations with FATF standards, while others are turning a blind eye. A few countries have confiscated huge quantities of crypto assets linked to crime and money laundering.

A new sector-wide integrity programme seeks to transform and harmonise standards of ethics and compliance across all Moscow City Transport organisations.

Alexandr Rusetskiy, a Deputy General Director in the Moscow Directorate of Transport Services, together with Ilsur Akhmetshin of the Compliance-Elements partnership, explain the motivation, approach and challenges in this effort to bring state-of-the-art anti-corruption practices to the sector and beyond.

The Industry Program for Development of Anti-Corruption Compliance and Business Ethics in Moscow Transport Organizations is a fundamental document according to which the anti-corruption policy of both the entire Moscow transport industry and of specific organizations within its structure is implemented.

I recently participated in a panel on the role of non-state actors in the recovery of stolen assets and proceeds of corruption at the 2020 International Anti-Corruption Conference, at which I presented the so-called “Russian arms dealer case”. The case is relatively small in monetary terms – around USD 700,000 plus interest – but hugely significant in terms of asset recovery efforts and international co-operation.

I recently spoke about Collective Action as part of a virtual panel discussion along with Andrey Tsyganov, Deputy Minister of Russia's Federal Antimonopoly Service, on the topic of New Russian Antimonopoly Regulations. The webinar was organised by the Russian Business Ethics Network and The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania Zicklin Center for Business Ethics Research, and is available on YouTube here.

Russian small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) have repeatedly cited corruption as the main factor hindering their growth. In the 1990s and early 2000s, Russian entrepreneurs paid bribes for certain extralegal activities to secure an advantage over competitors, to induce bureaucrats to overlook infractions of the law, or to speed various regulatory or licensing processes. In the past several years, however, the dynamic has shifted radically, according to local experts who study the issue closely.