Money laundering may not be theft, but it is a product of theft. Sources of laundered money may include illegal activities such as trafficking in drugs or humans, or it may be diverted income from natural resources, inflated costs, bribes, fake loans, or other financial manipulation. The money might be stolen from the state, in the form of unpaid taxes or other charges, or from the people of a country – as with stolen revenues from the sale of natural resources from oil to diamonds. Money laundering thus reflects economic and moral damage to individuals and institutions and thereby threatens the stability and security of states, societies, and regions.
Azerbaijan is a small but energy-rich country in a strategically sensitive location. Its leaders have had many choices about pathways to the future and through consistent decisions over two decades, have created a repressive oligarchic regime that is ruled by one family. How did Azerbaijan, which started on the path to political pluralism in 1992, become a corrupt state that abuses human rights and the media? Continue reading Azerbaijan: The Rich Get Richer and the Poor Get Nothing