COMMENTARY | Bill Gertz at the Washington Free Beacon has a great story about the other unsavory aspect of Vladimir Putin and his regime. It seems that while he is looking for new territory to conquer, he has been raking it in at the expense of Russia.
“Putin is estimated to have amassed a fortune worth at least an estimated $28 billion through kickbacks from projects like construction at the Sochi Winter Olympic games, holdings in Russian real estate and energy conglomerates, and kickbacks from deals with associates going back to the late 1990s.
“Corruption by Putin and his inner circle is said to be pervasive and a normal part of business under his authoritarian regime. For the first time in at least a decade, Putin is beginning to come under fire from the West after the military annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula.”
It seems that the United States has been someone reluctant to point out that Putin’s regime is a kleptocracy, especially under Obama’s “reset” policy. The rape of the Crimea has changed all of that.
There is a line in the first post-Cold War James Bond movie, “Goldeneye,” when a character tells Bond, “It’s all Russian mafia now.” At the time, though, there was a distinct Russian government that in theory was trying to bring the growth of organized crime to heel. Putin seems to have brought order into chaos by becoming the boss of all bosses in Russia. It is as if Don Corleone had become president of the United States.
This state of affairs actually places Putin in a vulnerable position. If he follows the pattern of other corrupt dictators, he likely has a lot of his loot stashed away in foreign banks, likely under numbered accounts and behind shell corporations. It’s time for all of those forensic accountants we have on the payrolls of agencies like the FBI and get them to work ferreting out these hidden assets and seizing them. That would hit Putin far more than toothless sanctions or wagging a finger at him after his next military conquest.