Thursday, October 13, 2016

Raising Barriers

The Washington Post has begun a three-part online series on border walls titled "Raising Barriers." The first part, published yesterday, is available here.

According to the Post, there are currently 63 borders where states are separated by walls or other man-made barriers. Most of the world's barriers have been erected since 9/11. In Europe, the refugee crisis has triggered a new round of wall-building. In spite of this situation, the Schengen Area in Europe remains one of the world's most remarkable experiments in open borders.

The Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative

Morning Edition, the morning news program heard nationwide on National Public Radio, today featured a story on the U.S. Justice Department's Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative. The story, reported by Jackie Northam, noted the Justice Department's case against property--including an estate in Malibu, expensive cars, and a collection of Michael Jackson memorabilia--that Teodoro Nguema Obiang, the son of Equatorial Guinea's dictator, purchased in the United States.

The biggest case brought thus far by the Justice Department under this program was announced in July. It involves the misappropriation of $3.5 billion from 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), an $8 billion government fund intended to promote economic development in Malaysia. The U.S. Government alleges that $1 billion from the fund was spent in the United States on yachts, hotels, and art works. Some of the money even went toward the financing of The Wolf of Wall Street, a film starring Leonardo DiCaprio that was released in 2013.

The FBI website describes the Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative in these terms:
The Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative was established in 2010 to curb high-level public corruption around the world. Led by a team of Department of Justice prosecutors working in tandem with the FBI and other federal law enforcement agencies, its mission is to forfeit the proceeds of corruption by foreign officials and, where appropriate, to use recovered assets to benefit the people who were harmed.