In its third and final meeting, RUSI’s ‘Taskforce on the Trans-Atlantic Response to Illicit Finance’ (TARIF) focused on the financial tools and resources that corrupt and kleptocratic actors use with the intent of undermining democratic systems. This encapsulates many activities, which we have labelled as ‘active financial measures’.
This can take many forms, such as exploiting regulatory loopholes and lax standards, abusing policies that were intended to safeguard the rights of citizens, or wielding financial power to solidify reputations. Active financial measures infect various sectors from law, politics, real estate, professional services and cultural institutions.
Active financial measures undermine democratic societies; their use corrodes the integrity of our societies by influencing policy and weakening institutions. They also pose a strategic risk to our national security. A coordinated response based on closing loopholes, empowering the private sector and advancing information sharing is needed now.
Former Senior Research Fellow
Within the current geo-political context, the global threat posed by active financial measures is clear.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine has shown that we can no longer take a naïve, business-as-usual attitude to the money and professional firms that open the doors of our democracies to foreign influence.
Director, CFCS / Centre for Financial Crime and Security Studies
There are immediate actions that both countries can take. This includes a radical rethink of information sharing, jointly mapping the full threat landscape - and coordinating the closure of loopholes, as well as leveraging the private sector as a strategic partner.
The third and final TARIF meeting took place on 24 March and included 30 experts and practitioners from both sides of the Atlantic. Sessions examined the types of active financial measures that authoritarians use and how they’ve evolved over time; and what realistic solutions are needed to counter this growing threat, while preserving democratic integrity.
Specific topics explored included: SLAPP suits and other disruptive legal tactics, reputation laundering, political financing and investment in key industries, as well as the vulnerabilities in opaque private markets. RUSI’s TARIF launched in June 2021 with the aim of strengthening global democracy by identifying viable ways in which the UK and US can combine efforts in tackling illicit finance. A set of action items will be available in the summer.
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TARIF aims to strengthen global democracy by identifying viable ways in which the UK and US can combine efforts in tackling illicit finance.