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Corruption Causes Poverty, Death, Terrorism, & War

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Over 2/3 of countries worldwide are deeply corrupt.  Corrupt people all over the world use shell companies to launder (hide) their illegal, stolen, extorted, or blood money.  This includes:

  • dictators
  • mafia bosses
  • Russian oligarchs
  • terrorist organizations
  • drug cartels
  • human traffickers
  • corrupt government officials
  • corrupt business owners and executives

Many of these corrupt people and their families vacation in luxury resorts, send their children to schools in the Western world of rich, developed nations, and own yachts and lavish mansions worldwide.

They use loopholes in Western banking laws that allow people to hide their ill-gotten gains in networks of shell companies to live like kings and queens while their fellow citizens back home starve or suffer in dire poverty due to their corruption.

Studies show developing and poor countries lose 24 times as much money to rich countries as they receive in aid.

  • The United Nations says each year, poor countries lose $1.26 trillion to corruption, bribery, theft, and tax evasion.
  • Experts estimate corrupt people launder over $1 trillion each year out of poor nations and into North America and Europe.
  • Experts believe $21 trillion of blood or dirty money hides in offshore accounts.

Dirty Money Kills Millions Each Year

By stealing resources that would otherwise help poor people, the anti-poverty group One argues money laundering worldwide likely causes 3.6 million deaths each year.

Dictators alone steal billions of dollars from their countries.  For example:

  • Mohammed Suharto stole $15 to $30 billion from his people in Indonesia.
  • Saddam Hussein stole $10 to $20 billion in Iraq.
  • Ferdinand Marcos of the Philippines stole $5 to $10 billion.
  • Mobutu Sese Seko of Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo) stole $4 to $5 billion.
  • Sani Abacha of Nigeria: $2 to $5 billion
  • Zine Ben Ali of Tunisia: $1 to $2.6 billion
  • Slobodan Milesevic of Serbia: $1 billion.

Corruption steals far more than it would cost each year to feed the whole world, give everyone health care, educate everyone, and provide clean, running water and sanitation to everyone in cities worldwide.

When corrupt people steal money that would have gone to feeding people, health care, and infrastructure worldwide, the suffering and injustice leads to:

  • anger
  • violence
  • wars
  • terrorism

Money Laundering & Terrorism

Like dictators, terrorist organizations thrive by laundering money.

  • Both al-Qaeda and ISIS launder money to fund their operations.
  • The Pakistani nuclear scientist A. Q. Khan used money laundering to buy and sell nuclear materials and components and spread nuclear weapons technology to Pakistan, Iran, Libya, and North Korea.

Terrorist groups thrive in corrupt, war-torn countries like Syria.

  • Bashar al-Assad’s war against his own people has killed 360,000 Syrians and displaced millions.
  • He has used chemical weapons against his own people at least 50 times and tortures them, too.
  • Bashar and his British-born wife have a palace worth an estimated $1 billion.
  • Bashar’s uncle war criminal Rifaat al-Assad, the “Butcher of Hama,” is reportedly proud of his massacre of 38,000 people in Syria in the 1980s.
  • The al-Assad family had 507 properties in Spain worth $922 million, including luxury holiday homes and a luxury hotel.
  • They also have $101 million in mansions and offices in London and mansions in France.

Authorities have seized many of the al-Assad family properties but most dirty money worldwide has not been touched.

Russian Corruption

More than half of Russia’s wealth is stashed offshore.

  • Experts estimate Russian oligarchs hold between $800 billion and $1.3 trillion abroad.
  • Putin’s oligarchs keep most of their offshore wealth in the US, England, or Europe.
  • Smaller tax havens like many islands around the world just don’t have the investment opportunities to satisfy Russian oligarchs.

Putin and his oligarchs live like kings, leaving average Russians very poor.

  • Putin’s salary is only $119,000 but he is likely the richest man in the world, worth anywhere from $70 to $200 billion.
  • Putin may own or control between $100 billion and $160 billion of assets outside of Russia through a maze of shell companies and oligarchs.
  • One report claims Putin has 20 villas, 4 yachts, 58 aircraft, and a $400,000 collection of watches.
  • It seems Putin spent 1.2 billion upgrading just one of his yachts.
  • Putin owns an extravagant Italianate mansion in Russia on the coast of the Black Sea likely worth $1 billion, known as Putin’s palace.
  • This palace has 3 helicopter landing pads, a private theatre, underground tunnels, and accomodations for security guards.

Because of this, life in Russia is difficult:

  • 1/3 of Russians have no hot water
  • ¼ have no indoor toilets
  • 1/5 have no indoor plumbing and running water
  • 15% have no central heat
  • Almost 8% don’t have access to safe drinking water.
  • Even in Moscow, 56% of the water does not meet safety standards because of pollution and heavy metals.
  • Russia’s own state survey sys 80% of Russians struggle to make ends meet.
  • A recent survey showed 44% of young people in Russia would leave the country if they could.

Putin is afraid of one thing. He is afraid that one day the Russian middle class will finally rebel against his regime and rush into the streets demanding change.

  • It happened in Tunis, Cairo and other Middle Eastern and North African cities in the Arab Spring between 2010 and 2012.
  • It happened closer to home in 2013 when Ukrainians threw out their Russian puppet president Yanukovych.
  • Putin faced massive protests in 2012.  Russians were sick of his jailing and killing political dissidents and opponents and control of TV.
  • But taking back their old land of Crimea in Ukraine made Putin popular again. Now that glow has faded.
  • Russian incomes have fallen for the last 6 years.
  • Last year, Putin cut pensions and hiked taxes, but not for oligarchs.  Now Putin is trying to limit internet access.
  • Now Putin’s approval rate is near historic lows and there are massive protests in Moscow again.
  • This year, tens of thousands of Russians have taken to the streets to protest Putin’s corruption.

The average Russian would love for the Western world to overthrow their dictators IF we actually used the money to improve their lives.

Ignoring Corruption in Eastern Europe

The US and the European Union spend tens of billions of dollars supporting Eastern European countries whose citizens are pro-Western and contribute troops to NATO like Moldova, Georgia, and Ukraine.

We claim this money fights corruption and claim to require reforms, but we ignore lack of progress and worsening corruption.

The real powers in these countries are billionaire oligarchs:

  • one in Moldova
  • one in Georgia
  • five in Ukraine
  • Moldova’s oligarch is worth $3 billion while the per capita gross domestic product (GDP) there is just $3,226.
  • Georgia’s oligarch is worth $5 billion, nearly 1/3 the country’s GDP.

The poor citizens of these and other corrupt countries would love for us to demand real democratic reforms, sanction their oligarchs, take their ill-gotten wealth, and use the money to improve their lives.

Preparing for the Special Case of Russia

Of course, cracking down on corruption and shell companies is playing hardball.

Bloody dictators, cartels, Putin, and his oligarchs have long been able to literally get away with murder.

They won’t like losing power and hundreds of billions of dollars, so they will surely fight back.  And they are very dangerous!

  • In 2015, Russia attacked Ukraine’s power grid, cutting electricity to 225,000 people.
  • North Korea once took over the controls of a South Korean nuclear power plant.
  • Russia has already hacked our electrical grids, energy, nuclear, water, aviation, construction, and manufacturing sectors.
  • China and other nations also have these cyber capabilities.
  • Russia has just surpassed us in developing hypersonic weapons that can fly low and avoid ballistic missile defense radars.

We are constantly hardening our essential infrastructure but they could try to take down our electrical grids, stop air traffic, etc.

Russia is far behind the expertise of NATO countries in both missile defense and space technology and weaponry.  So they are far more vulnerable than we are.

But they could attack us with hypersonic weapons or try to take over or destroy government and private satellites and telecommunications.

We will have to be extremely careful with Putin and his oligarchs.

By starting with worldwide corruption first and temporarily leaving Putin’s inner circle of oligarchs alone, the Russian people may like what they see happening in other countries and bring Putin down themselves.

Our military always studies Putin’s capabilities and can surely develop ways to center them.

Of course, before cracking down on money laundering, we should carefully prepare by:

  • constantly continuing to harden our essential infrastructure from cyber sabotage
  • constantly monitoring and quickly responding to any sabotage in space operations

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