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Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Panel on organized crime in politics Dec. 11, 2013, London, streamed live. Globalization offers greater opportunity for crime to influence politics. 'Main drivers of change have been citizens.' IDEA Int.

12/10/13, "Dirty money: breaking the link between organised crime and politics," odi.org.uk (Overseas Development Instit.)
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December 11, 2013, "Overseas Development Institute and streamed live online"
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"Money plays a central role in determining whose voices are heard in the political process. The revolving door between business and politics distorts the language in which political actors operate. When those businesses are illicit, it further threatens the integrity of electoral processes and undermines the mechanisms for political accountability. 
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The influence of dirty money in politics is a pervasive problem across both the developing and developed world. Yet it is an issue that the international community has thus far been reluctant to engage with fully, given the many sensitivities involved.

Drawing on extensive research that International IDEA has led on the threat that transnational illicit networks pose on democratic politics, and a series of case studies commissioned in Latin America, the Baltic States and West Africa, this event will consider the connections between illicit networks, corrupt politicians, electoral cycles and political competition; the institutional dynamics that enable these relationships; how international development actors can respond to the impacts of organised crime on governance in developing countries, and how political financing can be regulated more rigorously. 


Speakers:

Catalina Uribe Burcher - International IDEA
Artis Velšs - Deputy Chief, Latvia State Police
Frank Okyere - Research Fellow, Faculty of Academic Affairs and Research Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre

Discussants: Camino Kavanah - Editor and lead researcher of the CIC-NYU publication Getting Smart and Scaling Up: Responding to the Impact of Organized Crime in Developing Countries
Francesca Recanatini - Senior Economist, Public Sector and Governance, Middle East & North Africa, The World Bank
Chair:
Lanre Akinola - Editor of This is Africa at the Financial Times
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Follow #politicalfinancing on Twitter for live coverage.

An ODI public event in the Elections, legitimacy and transitions: lessons from emerging democracies series"
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12/7/13, "Dirty money in politics," Idea.int (Sweden), Catalina Uribe Burcher 
"Democracies around the world struggle to protect their institutions from illicit financial flows."  .

"Violence originating from organized crime is widely known to have destabilized State institutions in countries like Guatemala and Colombia. Yet money has increasingly become the preferred tool for these networks to influence politics. International IDEA and the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) will explore this theme during the upcoming panel discussion: Dirty money: breaking the link between organised crime and politics in London on 11 December 2013. ...

The massive money flow from the drug trade and the increasingly expensive nature of political competition has created an ideal situation for illicit networks to launder money through politics. But the situation is not exclusive to the Latin American context. 

The Baltic States, located at the EU’s eastern most frontier, have been particularly attractive to organized crime. In Latvia, for example, three oligarchs are regarded as the main force behind politics in the country. They all made a fortune during the privatization process after independence from the Soviet Union in the early nineties, which they have been accused of using to co-opt the legislative and executive into adopting laws and decisions that benefit their business enterprises. One of them founded several political parties and served as member of parliament and minister. It is therefore no coincidence that, even though the Anti-corruption Agency has tried to investigate his alleged criminal connections, the Parliament continuously blocked these investigations. Similarly, in Lithuania politicians have used their positions to facilitate their illegal business interests. For example, in the city of Pagėgiai, which is part of the smuggling ring that operates through the Kaliningrad region (a Russian exclave between Poland and Lithuania), two mayors were accused of playing an active role in the smuggling business, according to a report by the State Security Department.

A change of approach

Globalization has created new opportunities for illicit political funding and authorities need to adapt to this new reality....

Next steps

In spite of the multiple signs and alerts about the growing threat that organized crime poses to democraticy, there is still relatively little empirical and comparative knowledge about the mechanisms used by these networks to collude with political institutions. International IDEA intends to continue exploring this topic in Latin America and other regions. Indeed, besides highlighting current trends about the nexus between organized crime and politicians, the research conducted so far has provided some important insights into the conditions and mechanisms that allow these corrupt practices to flourish. In the aftermath of these cases, the main drivers of change have been citizens, and those experiences are worth sharing to avoid opening the floodgates to organized crime in other countries; particularly those facing democratic transitions similar to Latin America and the Baltic States."






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