Austria has been one of the most vulnerable countries in Europe. Russia has increased its economic footprint in the country significantly over the last decade. Russian entities have rechanneled billions of euro in Russia-owned banks in Austria. The latter received an exemption from the European sanctions to continue operating within the Eurozone system and facilitate loans and deposit operations involving Russian entities.]]>
Enablers of Russian malign influence allow the Kremlin to achieve its end and avoid some of the consequences of its behavior. By aiding and abetting Russia’s malign influence, enablers assist the Kremlin in self-destructive behavior that siphons funds offshore (often in or through Europe) and depletes the Russian tax base at a time of dire economic conditions. Crucially, by allowing Russian economic influence to cycle through their systems, enablers actively participate in the weakening and discrediting of their own democratic structures.
Understanding Russian malign economic influence requires understanding the risks inherent in large Russian investment flows. Because enablers can facilitate or aid illicit financial flows, they jeopardize the integrity of open market economies and, ultimately, create a threat to national security. State-owned enterprises and large companies play an important role in the furtherance of Russian malign economic influence because of their dominant position and ability to distort market competition. The significant amounts of financial flows they oversee make them susceptible to illicit practices or abuse.
Enablers can facilitate the integration of illicit funds within legitimate global financial flows, assisted by shell companies and corporate facilitators like banks, attorneys, or accountants. Russian private holdings abroad total an estimated $1 trillion. These significant capital flows create a potential dependence on illicit funds in which the enabler and the Kremlin both benefit from and are dependent on a system that helps these flows transit in and out of Russia and Europe. Illicit finance, particularly money laundering, can damage national security by corrupting government officials who can alter policies, impeding the free flow of capital, reducing the efficacy of sanctions regimes, and distorting entire markets and industries.
This link between illicit finance and national security can materialize in two separate channels—public corruption and organized crime—that follow the same track and at times overlap. In the case of Russia, these two flows converge at the behest of the Kremlin. Malign actors hiding funds and profits can do so through money laundering and tax avoidance or evasion. Enabling countries’ developed financial systems move these billions in investment and profits in and out of European countries every year. These financial systems offer specific tools that are designed to obscure the origins of certain investments and conceal illicit financing. Tactics that remove profits from the reach of tax authorities (and thus state revenue) may not be illegal, but some are meant to operate just below the threshold of illegality, where enablers excel—within a financial gray zone. They might be following the letter of the law, but certainly not its spirit, and industries like corporate service providers (CSPs) assist in this task by feeding the enabling ecosystem through complex, cross-border transactions and company constructions. This complex ecosystem has grown exponentially in the past three decades with rapid globalization and Russia’s deep integration within our financial system. It has become almost impossible to disentangle the reported $1 trillion of Russian capital outflows from other financial flows, including for the most capable oversight bodies in the world.
|The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) budget for 2014 – 2020 amounts to a total of 408 billion EUR , while 40 % of the EU annual budget is earmarked for agriculture. In 2013 – 2017 the EC received reports of a total of 18 281 cases on counts of fraud and other irregularities in agiculture, amounting to a total of 1.360 billion EUR. EU funds fraud can be committed through acts constituting an infringement, such as corruption, falsification of documents, influence peddling, circumvention of the law, conflict of interests, bribery, making false statements and others. It is crucial to employ innovative methods in the fight against fraud, such as satellite and thermal imaging, automated prevention systems and multi-channel civil society monitoring.|
The comparative country by country perspective on Russia’s corporate presence, trade, and investment in particular sectors of the region, especially energy, shows the patterns of the Kremlin’s use of economic presence and state capture tactics to amplify political and social leverage.
By collating economic data with an analysis of governance loopholes and the political process, the authors reveal the Kremlin’s methods for swaying national policies. The book thereby highlights how Russia’s economic power is related to its wider strategic goals.
It concludes that Russia’s economic grip, both direct and indirect, is tighter than official statistics imply.
Despite the obligation of criminal justice authorities to strictly observe the presumption of innocence, suspects and accused are always subject to certain restrictions and consequences during the criminal proceedings. All of these restrictions have their legitimate purposes but at the same time affect the personal and social sphere of suspects and accused.
During criminal proceedings, suspects and accused, although presumed innocent, are practically placed in an unequal position compared to other members of the society. As a result of the measures and restrictions applied to them, their social status can be affected in a number of ways: temporary or permanent unemployment, loss of income, increased expenses, loss of social benefits, deteriorating relations with family members, etc.
At the same time, the impact of criminal proceedings on suspects and accused is often neglected by the criminal justice authorities, which tend to focus on ensuring the effective progress and outcome of the case, rather than on mitigating the resulting negative implications for suspects and accused. In practice, a criminal case can lead to a certain degree of de-socialisation of the accused person and this risk needs to be taken into account and properly assessed by the criminal justice authorities. Such an assessment should be added to the evaluation of other factors, such as the risk of absconding or reoffending, in order to allow the competent criminal justice body to select and apply the most appropriate combination of measures in each particular case.
This report aims to examine the factors that affect the social status of suspects and accused drawing upon the prevalent legal practices in four European Union Member States: Belgium, Bulgaria, Greece, and Italy.]]>
Bulgaria and Romania have long traditions in illicit tobacco trade rooted in the hardships of their transitions to market economy. Unlike them, Greece and Italy enjoyed lower levels of illicit tobacco consumption, which changed with the arrival of the global economic crisis in 2009. Thus by 2012 illicit market soared from 2.2 % up to 8.5 % in Italy and from 2 % up to 10 % in Greece. The economic crisis have also led to sharp increase in illicit tobacco consumption in Bulgaria and Romania as well. However, while Bulgaria and Italy managed to stifle the illicit market, Greece and Romania continue to face high levels of counterfeit and contraband cigarettes.
The current report examines the development of the illicit tobacco market in Bulgaria, Greece, Italy and Romania through the prism of economic risks, the political environment in the country and the region, and recent changes in the involved criminal networks and the institutional capabilities for counteraction. The publication was prepared in the framework of the study "Illegal Trade in Tobacco Products and the Balkan Route: Overcoming Institutional Gaps and Corruption" and is funded by PMI-IMPACT, a global initiative to combat illegal trade and related crimes.
Countering Corruption in the Private Sector]]>
Discussion on the topic]]>
Financing of Human Trafficking for Sexual Exploitation]]>
The illicit tobacco market: limits to institutional enforcement]]>
Some of the key findings from the study include:
Presentation of the report “The Kremlin Playbook” at the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Auswärtige Politik, 26 January 2017, Berlin
The phenomena of radicalisation today develop and change at high speed, with their extreme forms manifested globally. The destructive dimensions of (violent) Islamist or right-wing radicalisation have become dramatically visible in Europe posing serious challenges to European societies. This literature review presents key academic conceptualisations and debates on the phenomena оf radicalisation that might lead to violence. It deals with three different forms of radicalisation, including Islamist radicalisation, right-wing as well as left-wing radicalisation. In addition, an overview is provided of current academic debates regarding the role of the internet in radicalisation processes. The review is intended to help social scientists who are entering the field of radicalisation studies navigate through the complexity of underlying processes and factors that lead different individuals or groups to adopt radical ideas and commit acts of violence. The review is particularly relevant for countries of Central and Eastern Europe where radicalisation remains understudied, although most countries in the region share histories of extremism and political radicalism.]]>
In Chapter 7 Anton Kojouharov, Analyst and Atanas Rusev, PhD, Senior Analyst at the Center for the Study of Democracy, offer a detailed account of the illegal and predatory moneylending landscape and business in Bulgaria, a context in which a number of factors have affected the development of the alternative (and informal) credit markets and their - often - extortionate ends. The authors present a concise review of definitions of the relevant terms and suggest a tentative classification of the existing types of moneylenders in Bulgaria, as well as typology of the usual clientele.]]>
In addition to analysing the legal framework, the report provides an overview of the practical problems in the operation of registers, of the registration procedure and of the access to the information registers contain. It presents primary data revealing the attitude of various entities to the operation of existing registers in which non-profit legal entities have to register.]]>
While there is some empirical evidence on trafficking in human beings for the purpose of sexual exploitation of women, other forms of trafficking have not drawn attention of researchers, academics and policy makers. This means that victims of exploitation fall outside the radar of identification and thus cannot access the available assistance. Having this in mind, a consortium of seven partner organisations sought to explore three specific under-researched forms of child trafficking in order to contribute to the knowledge on how and why children fall prey to exploitation. The three forms studied are child trafficking for the purpose of begging exploitation, child trafficking for the purpose of pick-pocketing and child trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation of boys.]]>
The Zaragoza set of indicators in migrant integration are only a minimum list of indicators and States are encouraged to collect and analyse further data according to their specific composition of the migrant population and the legal and policy framework. The use of indicators gives policy actors a lasting perspective and evidence base for policy planning. The availability of these indicators is therefore a starting-point for more shared learning across the EU and evidence based policy making, implementation and monitoring.
The setting up of national integration indicators can be seen as a positive development in Austria, Belgium and soon Italy as it helps provide an evidence base for policy monitoring as well as policy making in these countries.]]>
A refocusing of the anticorruption effort at the level of public organisation would enhance the quality of design of policies and would allow more precise monitoring of their implementation and effect. Monitoring Anticorruption Policy Implementation (MACPI) – a tool recently developed by the CSD and University of Trento experts – will facilitate such refocusing by allowing evaluators and policy makers to review the anticorruption architecture of individual public sector organisations. It could also help the use of benchmarking and policy templates at the public institution level.
The adopted amendments at first reading to the Energy Law demonstrate yet again the risks of state capture by third-party interests, which do not correspond or even contradict the public interest. The real problems, which Bulgarian society faces on a daily basis, such as energy poverty, high energy prices, and low diversification and energy efficiency receive only a fraction of the attention, in terms of institutional and policy-making focus, compared to projects such as South Stream. What is even more alarming is that the recent actions of the ruling majority take place in the context of increasing geostrategic insecurity and danger of confrontation, which further exacerbate the risks deriving from such decisions.]]>
Public Discussion: Hidden Economy in Bulgaria 2011-2012]]>
The policy brief makes an overview of the organized crime, corruption and money-laundering in Bulgaria. According to the authors, in spite of several legislative initiatives and a growing amount of prosecutorial decrees for money-laundering in the last decade, the prosecution for this type of crime in Bulgaria remains insignificant. The complexity of the crime, the objective difficulties for its investigation, as well as the necessary inter-institutional approach on an international level to combat such activities explain the relatively small number of prosecutions.]]>
The systematic and thorough use of integrated tools for the monitoring and evaluation of public policies and programs is yet to become the norm in Bulgaria. The underestimating of the importance of these practices is one of the reasons for the relatively low level of preparedness of the country in adjusting to the requirements and challenges of EU membership. The lack of monitoring and evaluation of public policies and programs leads to many problems, e.g. related to the mismanagement of EU pre-accession and structural funds, the implementation of the harmonized European legislation, the capacity of the Bulgarian administration. In this context, the knowledge and use of these methods and techniques is a prerequisite for sound, effective and accountable governance. They are also needed for increased public participation and involvement of all stakeholders in the development, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of public policies and programs.]]>