While countering terrorism financing may be prioritized by national governments, it is the rise of illicit finance and money laundering that constitutes a grave threat to national security and democratic institutions. As extensive research identified in the Kremlin Playbook and the Kremlin Playbook 2demonstrated, illicit financial flows are increasingly used to influence policies and erode democratic systems. Anti-money laundering (AML) directives, Ultimate Beneficial Ownership (UBO) legislation as well as other transparency initiatives in the EU and U.S. can help safeguard democratic institutions. Prior to the 2013 financial crisis, Cyprus and the Cypriot financial system was frequently cited as a main conduit of illicit financial flows, particularly from Russia. Cyprus responded by implementing important AML and banking reforms in recent years, such as a register for beneficial ownership for trusts and enhanced compliance and due diligence policies. We welcome the leaders of the two largest banks in Cyprus, as well as Eric Lorber, Director for the Center for Economic and Financial Power at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, for a public discussion on what lessons were learned during this period as well as what more work needs to be done in the U.S. and the EU to prevent malign economic influence from penetrating Western financial systems.
This event was made possible through general support to CSIS.
Director, Center for Economic and Financial Power, FDD