Supervising and Monitoring Ukraine’s Reconstruction Funds (SMURF)

SMURF aims to support the resilience and integrity of the financial system of Ukraine.




Bolstering the integrity of Ukraine's financial system will be key to the country's successful recovery. Project SMURF's mission is to empower Ukraine's efforts to strengthen its financial system by providing evidence-based research, policy recommendations, and awareness-raising activities.

The war in Ukraine has devastated the country and upended the lives of millions of Ukrainians. Reconstruction will require a strong financial system, proper mechanisms and expertise to ensure a proper allocation of international funds.

Founded in 2022 in response to Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Project SMURF aims to strengthen resilience and integrity of Ukraine's financial system. In particular, the project focuses on Ukraine's adherence to the Financial Action Task Force's (FATF) standards, fighting financial crime, anti-money laundering efforts, and bolstering transparency in reconstruction. Our work aims to identify policy responses to these challenges and putting evidence-based research into practice.

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Objectives

The project focuses on the delivery of evidence-based research, in-person and online events, training and study tours to key selected civil society actors involved in the process of strengthening financial system in Ukraine. The focus is on:

  • Supporting Ukraine in effectively implementing the AML/CTF reforms in accordance with the FATF standards and EU reforms.
  • Developing the framework for effective public-private partnerships in Ukraine, aiming to enhance cooperation between governmental and private entities in combatting financial crimes.
  • Raising awareness on AML efforts, financial crime and resilience of the financial system through expert commentaries and evidence-based research.
  • Supporting Ukrainian policymakers by assessing the efforts of different public institutions to strengthen financial integrity.
  • Fostering international cooperation and support for Ukraine by engaging with international policymakers and organisations, providing an up-to-date understanding of Ukraine’s financial system.
  • Bolstering capacity-building by creating a community of young leaders/professionals fighting illicit finance in different regions of Ukraine and providing them with relevant training.
  • Providing Ukraine’s civil society – financial experts, investigative journalists, activists – with expert tools to properly monitor the allocation of funds and discourage money laundering.

Impact

In its first year, SMURF aimed to empower Ukraine’s ‘second line of defence’, civil society, by providing them with the necessary expertise and tools to monitor the proper allocation of funds and discourage kleptocracy. To achieve this, SMURF organised a study tour for a cohort of leading Ukrainian anticorruption activists, working closely with the Ukrainian government on transparency and accountability in Ukraine’s reconstruction. The cohort produced several outputs contributing to the discussions on strengthening the Ukrainian financial system.

In July 2023, CFS convened a side-event to the Ukraine Recovery Conference, ‘Securing the Integrity and Resilience of Ukraine’s Financial System’. During the conference, participants put forth a series of recommendations to serve as guiding points for all stakeholders involved.

In November 2023, CFS established its presence on the ground with a Ukraine-based researcher to amplify outreach to Ukrainian stakeholders’ expertise via both online and in-person events.

In February 2024, SMURF brought together policymakers to assess the current state of resilience and integrity of the financial system in Ukraine, two years after Russia’s full-scale invasion. The main findings of the workshop have been summarised in the report focusing on the Ukraine’s technical compliance with AML standards and the effectiveness of the response to financial crime.

In February 2024, to inform the international community about the progress of the financial system’s reforms, SMURF convened a roundtable discussion in Brussels on ‘Financial Crime, War and Reconstruction: How to Secure Resilience in a Challenging Environment’.

Project SMURF focuses on putting its evidence-based research into practice through capacity-building and collaborative workshops. As policymakers have increasingly been focusing on the EU accession process, the project’s research objectives have come to centre on the anti-money laundering (AML) aspect of EU reforms. This includes addressing topics such as politically exposed persons (PEPs), virtual assets, and more. Through our cutting-edge research, we aim to inform both Ukrainian and international audiences about the progress Ukraine is making towards achieving a transparent financial system.

Reports & Commentary

Access the latest content

Above the Horizon with Gabriela Masztafiak: 'Russia must pay! - 9 May 2024

Dr Kinga Redłowska talks about Russian assets, where Russian assets are located, why Belgium is the largest European depositary, what confiscation and freezing of assets is, what other options the European Union has regarding Russian assets, what Russian retaliation may be, what the funds seized from assets can be used for and whether Europe is safe for deposits.

Combating Kleptocracy: Lessons from the Response to Russia’s War in Ukraine

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Episode 15: Combating Kleptocracy: Lessons from Sanctions on Russia

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The Resilience and Integrity of the Financial System in Ukraine

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Episode 10: Ukraine’s Reconstruction: Russia Must Pay

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Freeze to Seize or to Appease? Why Russian Assets are not a Bargaining Chip

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Can Open Data Form the Basis for a Transparent Recovery Process in Ukraine?

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The Gambling Industry in Ukraine: Financial and National Security Threats

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Confiscating Russian Oligarchs’ Assets in Ukraine: The First Successes

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Politicians or Lynch Law: Who Will Control Ukraine’s Reconstruction?

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Study tour

Community of young professionals

SMURF aims to create a network of young professionals, which will increase youth involvement in the anti-money laundering efforts and raise the next generation of experts promoting new views on fighting financial crimes in Ukraine. SMURF provides a forum for peer-led discussion and relevant training to encourage young professionals to take a more active part in protecting and rebuilding the financial system.

Project SMURF Study Tour

Outputs


Finance and Security in Brief: Virtual Assets in Ukraine
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Partners and sponsor

  • RUSI Europe

    Based in Brussels, RUSI Europe builds on the Royal United Services Institute’s almost 200 years of expertise in security and defence. We carry out research, provide a forum for security and defence dialogues, and are committed to help solve the most urgent security and defence challenges. Our mission is to leverage the Institute’s research capacities to inform policy-making at the EU, NATO and among their member states.

    Find out more
  • Better Regulation Delivery Office

    Better Regulation Delivery Office (BRDO) is a leading Ukrainian independent think tank in the field of economic regulation with a focus on implementation. The office was established in 2015 as a non-governmental non-profit organization to assist the government in carrying out medium- and long-term economic reforms to improve the business environment in conditions of political instability.

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Project sponsor

  • National Endowment for Democracy (NED)

    The National Endowment for Democracy (NED) is a private, non-profit foundation dedicated to the growth and strengthening of democratic institutions around the world. Each year, NED makes more than 2,000 grants to support the projects of non-governmental groups abroad who are working for democratic goals in more than 100 countries.

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Publication archive

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