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tv   Russian Transnational Criminal Organizations  CSPAN  June 8, 2018 3:37pm-5:15pm EDT

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amateur athletes. on booktv on c-span2, saturday at 7:00 p.m. eastern, former president bill clinton and author james patterson discuss their collaboration in writing "the president is missing" and at 7:30 p.m. on sunday, former u.s. ambassador to russia michael mcfaul talks about u.s./russia relations since 1989 in "from cold war to hot peace." and on american history tv on c-span3, saturday at 8:00 eastern, on lectures in history, princeton university professor julian zelizer on the growth of influence over u.s. foreign policy in the 1970s. sunday at 2:30 p.m. eastern, legal historian jill norgren and book "stories from trail blazing women lawyers." watch the c-span networks this weekend. a special prosecutor from spain spoke in washington, d.c.,
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recently, regarding russian transnational criminal organizations. from the hudson institute, this is about 90 minutes. >> we're going to get started. welcome. can you hear me? all right. this is a wonderful sound system. you can hear me but i can't tell that you can hear me because it's so beautifully distributed. well, welcome, everyone, to hudson institute. i'm charles davidson, the executive director -- there we go. i'll start again. all right. welcome. to hudson institute, everyone, i'm charles davidson, executive director of the kleptocracy initiative here. we're extremely honored to be hosting judge jose gonzalez who has come specially from spain to visit us. for a couple of days with this event here and various other things going on in town.
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he's really an example of what can be done. i don't want to say more about him by way of introduction because he's going to speak about what he has done and what is going on in spain in terms of the work that they're doing. so i don't want to color that in any way, shape or form. i would like, of course, to say just very brief word about the kleptocracy initiative and how this fits into where we are now because it's been, well, almost exactly four years since we started this effort here and initially, the issue was helping to make people more aware of the problem. the kleptocratic threat was something that was sort of over there. it was -- it was a problem that wasn't generally recognized in the d.c. policy community.
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that has changed. and so then our emphasis became, well, what can we do about this policy wise? and as many of you know, there's a lot going on in that vain. but all policy, all laws, need law enforcement both domestically and internationally and the threat of transnational criminal organizations and the way they immesh themselves with governments of various sorts and with non-state actors, is a national security threat to us, but it's a civilizational security threat to democratic and free countries in general. so we clearly need muscular, fearless, non-corrupt law enforcement. judge, please.
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>> translator: good morning. first of all, i'd like to thank charles, of course, and the hudson institute for this invitation. i consider it to be an honor, first of all, it's wonderful to be here in washington and at this institute. since i arrived here and, well, we've been cooperating with u.s. institutions for quite a while. the fbi which is here in d.c., and a large part of my
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presentation and what i wanted to speak about today has to do with crimes and how spanish officials have been investigating kleptocracy but at the grassroots, in other words, the civil guard and the national police. since the '90s, these officers and agents have been concerned and were smart enough to realize that there was a problem that came from the savage years in russia, so-called, it's the '90s, presidethe 1990s and the
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citizens were optimistic. they thought that they were being freed from oppression, from the soviet union and they went from this happiness to real poverty. the russian people have incredible intellectual richness and we see this at every level and we see this through objective data. and, of course, we should admire that. but then there's a series of people who are brazen and have no shame and this is certainly not a compliment, although, i don't think it's exactly an insult, either, because i like
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to avoid insults when i speak. these are a series of people who are involved in the political world, in the criminal world, and they are seizing all kinds of assets in our country and this means that they are garnering power, economically speaking, and they are taking on power in an exaggerated manner. and that finally leads to an incredible problem in russia, but that problem is then transferred elsewhere and the leader that we see at the head of this problem is none other than organized crime. in spain, what we see, not us, i had no idea, i always talk about the national police and the
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civil guard. at the end of the '90s, they are the ones together along with the national intelligence agency, begin to be concerned that goes beyond the criminal sphere, what they saw was that a great deal of money was coming in, capital flows, and that we needed to have some filter, some control over that and that's the complicated part because it's as if we were trying to take preventative measures before we get hurt, we're going to put a bandage on it, but it was the only way that turned to eed out effective. there are other european coun y countries that are wonderful countries and may be better than spain in many ways, but i have to say our police were really ahead of the curve in this. regard. now, if we look at an analysis
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of kleptocracy, those who have political and economic power in any country, not just russia, it's complicated to investigate those persons. aisle talking about criminal investigations. it was also complicated to kick off investigations on people who are high-level criminals because it's known in a pyramid criminal organization, the bottom, we have those people who are directly related to ordinary crimes like killing, extortions, drug trafficking, and then at the top, they are leaders that have little contact directly speaking with these quote/unquote ordinary crimes. usually, criminal investigations begin at the bottom.
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and spanish police, however, began at the top with those kingpins and some of them have been convicted in spain like other mafia bosses. i'm sure that we can speak about them later. and that investigation not at the bottom, rather at the top, we detected that recognized criminal organizations are recognized as such by the russian prosecutor's office. when they get in contact with us, we collaborate with them and it surprises many people that we actually collaborate with russian prosecutors because many people think that they're going to be protected by them.
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by the russian prosecutors. one way to eradicate clupgorrup, we know a bit about it in spain, is that investigations, what people think, that if they reach the prosecutor's office, then really it won't be a thorough investigation. but really what we want is to eliminate criminal organizations and we have seen that in spain, though people are demanding that the prosecutor's office take on these investigations, and not just the police, so it's important to talk about our experience and offer it to others and i come on behalf of the anti-corruption office of the prosecutor and on behalf of the state of spain.
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again, i appreciate this invitation from an ngo and it's true, i'm not formally representing the prosecutor's office. rather i've come here in my own capacity but i do feel proud to represent both spain and the prosecutor's office. so i'm going to take a few minutes now to talk about the anti-corruption prosecutor's office, the institutions work for and what is the relationship, organized crime, it is called the office of the proce prosecutor against corruption and organized crime. it's not new. it was new in spain. but, well, we have the convention from 2000 about transnational organized crime that led to the convention under the u.n. and in the preamble of both
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conventions, talk about corruption and organized crime and it's linked so this is nothing new. and it's nothing really ahead of the curve to say that the relationship between corruption and corruption and organized crime is constant, ongoing, and we need to attack in a coordinated manner. and that's why we have these two international instruments of the u.n., and that is why, as charles said, it's surprising that until recently we haven't realized or some countries haven't realized that this relationship is very close. in other words, corruption and organized crime is not a lower level corruption. rather, transnational organized crime, that's evolved in corruption means that this is high-level corruption. the strong criminal
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organizations are not happy or contentious to corrupt a low-lovely mayor. they go to the highest levels. to the extent that it seems that this corruption is not corruption. rather it's the power is like that, so it's almost as if they wanted the powerful to tell society this is what power is. power is corruption, and so they are trying to convince citizens of this. our anti-corruption prosecutor's office was founded in 1995 in a period when in spain we realized, well, we had gone from a dictatorship to democracy, but that doesn't mean that we're going to have better leaders. there was a moment where citizens felt desperate because
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that new politicians are also corrupt, but the big difference that in the dictatorship in spain from '36, from 1936 to 1976, well, there was no fight against corruption. society thought it was just normal. and so the powers of my office are national powers. there are several prosecutors. there are 28 in madrid, and then we have several prosecutors who are all over the country, and so this is the normal result of the decentralization process that has gone on since the founding of our new constitution which is based on a decentralized government. our powers are very powerful to
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fight corruption, and there's one in particular that allows us to fight against organized crime. we are allowed to investigate money laundering committed by organized crime or organized crime groups. there's just one exception. those criminal organizations that are devoted to drug trafficking, that actually falls under another prosecutor's office which is the anti-narcotics prosecutor's office. so the specialization has allowed us to be very effective and allowed me, if i may, to pred date here, yes, this office pays me and i am allowed to be here, but i want to speak of the complex structure, and it is the structure of the state. first of all, we have a judicial
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office. in other words, the individuals who form the core of the office and then we have three support units, as we call them. we have national policemen in one unit, and they only work with our office. so they are under us. they are our subordinates, then we have another unit which is from the tax ministry, and they look at databases and all the tax information of people who reside in spain or come to spain and settle there. we have all the information about these people's assets, and certainly we have another support unit which is the general intervention unit. they are public servants who actually control what the state spins. in other words, how contracts are awarded, how funds are
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allocated under these contracts. in other words, the interaction with the predecessor, and in our office, well, that's the structure. this setup is multi-disciplinary. it's quite complex and so it's complex because we're fighting organized crime which is also complex, and so i would -- wanted to just make a few drawings here if you don't mind. since i'm not an artist, i ask you to forgive me. they are just rectangles. well, human imperfection.
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there is legitimatization of this organized crime. we have economic legitimacy. organized crime wants to earn money. they are not trying to give a service to people. well, the organized crimes says, well, where there's no state that's where i'm going. where there's no structures to fight me, that's where i'm going. charles, if i run over time, please, let me know. well, when i'm over time, you let me know. well, organized crime, their aim is economic profit, and more economic profit means more
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power. this is, therefore, the basis of a criminal organization, but if they just had that, criminal organizations would be easy to get rid of. you know, a lot of mafia, but you're a mafia boss. we can get rid of you, so they need to find a way to attractively insinuate themselves into society. how did they do it? well, i don't know exactly because they continue to do it, but i think that we can say that the first thing they tried to do after attaining economic profits is to legitimize themselves vis-a-vis society, territorially speaking, almost all mafia bosses have a specific territory that they protect, and in spain,
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for example, or italy, those people who are most corrupt, first, they do two things. one, they have an incredible luxurious mansion to show that they are there, and secondly, then they buy a soccer team. i'm not saying everyone who owns a soccer team are mafia bosses. well, i'm a real madrid supporter, and it is an honorable soccer team. well, this social level that goes from their little town, starts to expand, and they create foundations, and they say that think philanthropists. they say that they want to take care of people, be charitable, create legal foundations, medical foundations.
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they actually deceive people and get them into these foundations, and they select people who are well known to direct these foundations. some are deceived. others let themselves be deceived, and so they start to actually have this web, this social web that they are able to create and bring people in, and then they realized that's not enough. why? because at the end, the police in general, the state understands that their origin is this economic origin, so they need to take care of their reputation, and they need to whitewash their reputation. well, money laundering is fundamental for criminal organizations for many years,
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and now we've added the whitewashing or the laundering of their reputation. if you have incredible assets, you need to enjoy it, and they want to be ostentatious. they want to show it. they want to show they are enjoying it and that they are normal people. and that society needs to support them and accept them. i think some -- for the last 70 years starting in the '50s the sicilian mafia starts to increase their activity. they go into rural areas. they also get money from the state. one of the examples is the pillaging of palermo, and so these are mafiosos that are involved in construction and they build. well, it used to be said that a true mav if a bass, a true kingpin, what they do is build a
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house and buy, again, a soccer team. well, any sport, you know. it doesn't have to be soccer, but when they build the house, they understand that the building itself, the construction is important, and they continue in the construction sector, and we see that all over the world. construction, not just buildings, highways, public works, and then in the '50s the sicilian mafia realizes that they need to also go farther and devote themselves to getting profits from the state to get these contracts awarded to them. that's the second step. i think that one step was developed here and it's really to build a business which is a criminal organization, and that's what we have to see it
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as, so the fight against money laundering is essential. but it's not the only fight. not the only front. we also have to fight against criminal activities and against corruption, and because this relationship between the awarding of contracts, public administration and criminal organizations, well, then, the criminal organizations come into contact with politicians. and that's what allows for the third block of legitimizing themselves. in other words, they are insinuating themselves into the political world. they even get legislation changed. they do this in legislation as far as crime is concerned. they say justice is slow. they get sentencing reduced.
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they get different crimes deleted or eliminated from the criminal code. they even between all these people they have in their web, well, we have detected in our investigates russian crime organizations that people who we know have police reports have been able to have officials actually make these police records disappear so they can actually have their records purged. and so the worst is when they actually create their own political parties, and they are the boss of an organized crime group. this has occurred, and i think that the liberal party in russia
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created by mr. sinonovsky, well, how is it possible that this party has officials that belongs to organized crime. and mr. v olc henkov, even such a person like mr. lyubov who has been accused of murdering alexander litvinenko, and finally down here we have the more subtle legitimizing process for organized crime, and this has to do directly with money laundering. and this is using these large firms of attorneys, of financial experts, and i'm also talking
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about financial and banking institutions, institutions that go against the prevention of money laundering, and this is done in the economic sphere and other spheres. these people also have ties to all these other blocks here, the economic, the social, the public administration. these are people who are experts and specialists in managing tax havens. well, you could say tax havens don't exist. you can call it whatever you want, but these are areas, territories in which mafia bosses and criminals can have assets which are hidden, or the ownership thereof is hidden from investigators of any country so you can call them countries that don't collaborate or countries
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or territories that are opaque. i would like to give you an example, and this is really self-criticism. this is spain, for example. spain currently has gibraltar. well, temporarily it's british, but gibraltar, we consider it to be an opaque non-collaborating territory and criminal organizations used gibraltar to actually hide their assets or the owners of assets. in the investigations we have undertaken, the first investigations done by the civil guard and the police are investigations that are directly aimed at eradicating the thieves
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in law. i'm sure the interpreter said it in english. these thieves in law are really the lowest part of the criminal organization. they are the leaders, but as in the '90s, they were the ones that protected businesses or under whose protection under their protection wealth was created with over time especially as of 2000, 2001. they start to act differently because they started doing this. and the thieves in law have tattoos all over them. they can't do any of these legitimizing activities. you've got to remove your touches.
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you have to be a normal person, so i always speak in masculine. i say he because they are men, and we have to look at why. the thieves in law have really become a species in danger of extinction, and they flourished in russia, and now they have almost been exterminated and that part of the collaboration we've received from the office of the prosecutor in russia to eradicate them, but there's some thieves in law who have never had a tattoo and those are the ones that have bought the title of thieves in law, and these thieves in law, they indeed legitimizing their activities. we have an investigation with regard to mr. vladimir turin.
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he is a thief in law. he was arrested for drug trafficking in the uk and in spain for leading a criminal organization clan, and currently the russian prosecutor asked us to transfer the file from spain to russia because we were not able to get him extradited back to spain, and we trust that the prosecutor's office in russia will work with investigation. there are people who have whitewashed his reputation and laundered his money. the investigation is ongoing because if russia does not investigate him, we will take this back up. but there are a series of leaders of criminal organizations which go beyond
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this. they are not as vulgar as the most of in law. we had an operation called -- a troika operation in spain, and the national police and civil guard arrested several people in june of 2008, and then there's petrov who was arrested. he has fled spain, and he had contacts with mr. abramov, mr. mammadov. these are very high-level businessmen. the relationship he had with them was very familiar. it was based on a business relationship also, and we heard and read how mr. petrov also had a relationship with the then minister of defense, sodukov who was actually subordinate to
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mr. petrov. we heard him speak into friendly terms and to also mr. raymond and to other people who are not part of the administration, but they are a part of the power structure in russia, and that is concerning. another person who we were investigating was mr. nicolai abramov who was a general in are, and he was responsible for fighting drug trafficking in russia, and we actually sent his file back to russia and then mr. sabiliski, well, thankfully the prosecutor's office in russia, thanks to the information we have given them, have gone after mr. sabilisvski. therefore, we've seen this relationship between organized crime to the public
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administration in russia and politicians in russia, so in reality we're -- what we're -- what you're doing is throwing stones at the russian public administration. no. indeerfield. an administration needs to recognize if there's corruption therein, and if that is the case, they need to clean it up, and in spain we've had recent arrests of a former minister in spain, and no one here is saying that the anti-corruption prosecutor or the civil guard that arrested this former minister is undermining the spanish public administration. to the contrary. this is legitimizing the democracy of spain's government and administration. finally, i would like to talk about the difficulties we have in fighting money laundering.
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we have detected, as i said, previously that we need to legitimize at a democratic level our institutions. this is an ongoing effort. it's true that there's been some people who feel relaxed, that just because they are a democracy, we're not going to have corruption? well, no, that is not the case. democratic officials can also be corrupted and firms of a democratic regime can become corrupted. we have realized, for example, in one of the proceedings that we have taken forward, which has to do with the presumption of a political party and in catalonia
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we saw that they were systematically corrupt, and so this is -- the thesis put forward in that regard is what theively guards think and the prosecutors think and we think we can prove this court and this is another example of how the catalan society and spanish society doesn't want to recognize that their administration is corrupt, and we think that that's how it was possible that political party was able to lead up the cry for independence, and we see horrible corruption. corruption that stole money from all the taxpayers, to all our citizens, again, they have not been convicted, this political party bufl this is our theory.
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also we had the difficulties of social perception, but another difficulty we face is collaboration. cooperation. i began by speaking about the cooperation that we have with the united states. we have a cooperation agreement which dates from 2010. we also have cooperation from law enforcement, civil guard, national police, the customs agency and also we have the police from catalonia. we have a wonderful relationship with the united states. we do not think that we are the executing arm of the united states or anyone, just of ourselves, of spain as was stated in wikileaks. some countries collaborate like
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the united states and others don't. we have faced serious problems in fighting organized crime with regard to the uk and very serious problems and getting them to exception with the exception of drug trafficking. we still this they are still areas where there's problems getting operation from holland and belgium. we have serious issues in finding organized crime because of this. and i see that as the uk is reacting effectively to economic cop tam nation that they have suffered from oligarchs that take dirty harry blackmun from a criminal organization.
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let's be it's an important business that goes forward with legal and lucrative acpivot. criminal investigations are landering money through large companies, not just crow front countries and that's why we need to be vinl lant with this part, the legal financial part. thank you very much.
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thank you. sebastian rotella is going to say a few words. sebastian is currently with propublica and knows mr. grinda very well and speaks spanish fluently and he'll speak a few words. ben judah is with us, and as some of you note uk was just criticized in ways that ben would like to reform and has been working on that, and there's been some recent action in the uk, as some of you know in the last ten days, that's a little bit promising, at least, and then we'll have a brief discussion. it's already ten of 11. we'll leave plenty of time for your questions given that we have such a distinguished outancy and there's many familiar faces and many
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non-familiar faces. it's not the usual kleptocracy fan club. so welcome. sebastian. >> sure. it's a pleasure to be here. thank you, charles, and to be here, it's an honor to be here with jose grinda and talk a little bit about my perspective as this. as the son of the american son of spanish and italian immigrants, i spent a lot of time in spain for personal and professional reasons, an i've covered organized crime and terrorism and intelligence around the world. last year when i got an assignment from propublica to really look at russia-related questions in europe, i -- i chose spain that hopefully would be a window into this global phenomenon because i knew the language and knew a lot of people in law enforcement and i had sort of been following some of these cases without going in-depth, so i got a chance to spend time with jose grinda and people in the police, other agencies and see and explore
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some of these places where some of the interesting cases had happened. what's remarkable is that the spanish experience over the past so, 15 years really this body of case work details the history of the evolution of russian organized crime overseas, not just in spain. and it reveals in remarkable details that these are power networks that go beyond traditional organized crime, that we're talking about a blurring or a blending of organized crime, intelligence, politics and business. and i think the spanish experience, as jose grinda described it. is really a road map and model for how to fight this urgent global threat. a couple of points of perspective that i think are interesting. run to remember is that the russian mafia comes in the '990s and early 2000s to spain looking for safety because of the intensity of the wars back home. investment opportunities, it was
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a country that was booming, particularly in real estate and part of a global expansion. this was global diaspora of organized crime. and spain, we should remember, is a prosperous safe and civilized country. it has one of the lowest homicide rates in europe, and it has tough and erective law enforcement with very -- with a justice system with a lot of guarantees and aggressive prison policies, so there were a lot of reasons that was attractive, and as this presence increased, what you should remember is this is a very small number of starting out in the late '90s and early 2000s. we're talking about a small number of investigators who have become concerned and have begun this difficult fight, and having worked with law enforcement around the world, one thing that i've always been impressed by very good investigators is that they are very frank when they say they are happy to say i don't know or i don't know this topic well or i'm just learning even when they are great expert. that's one thing that impressed me when talking to jose grinda
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and others who have become experts on this issue is that they are very candid about the fact that in the beginning this was not a world they knew a lot about, and i say they made a lot of mistakes and we really had to learn. we had a lot of obstacles, and they have come a long way because this was a different model of organized crime compared toy what they were used to. spain is a crossroads for drug trafficking so they dealt with latin america mavias with the italian mafia, but this was an entirely different model. you know, a lot of these people who were showing up presented themselves as wealthy, successful businessmen, and so the investigators had to learn how to -- how to take on these groups, how to understand them. they had to educate their own judiciary about this threat which is rather subtle. they had to prove crimes that were crimes that were happening and the monday that was being laundered because of the crimes that had happened elsewhere.
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they were dealing with enemies who on the one hand were very dangerous and had great firepower and on the other practiced great restraint so they weren't practicing violent crimes in spain. these were mavias with what seemed to be unlimited resources, with some of the best lawyers and financial advisers that spain could offer, and they had difficulties with as much as jose talks about some of the collaboration, what's clear is they had difficulties with russia and some of the other countries where the eurasian mafias came from with trustworthy partners. they began to understand the dimensions from the range of armies of pittsburgh lars at the lowest levels operating throughout europe to people, as you heard, who had direct partnerships with people at the cabinet level in russia. worldwide money laundering networks, and i think what jose grinda and the others did and were really pioneers in
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cooperation, both in spain which wasn't necessarily easy if you followed spanish law enforcement. there were times when there were divisions among other agencies and and jose and others had to coordinate among agencies and international cooperation. i think one thing they realized is that they had to learn about these groups, and they had to work with -- with a lot of other international partners if this fight was going to be successful so working, as you heard, with americans and european law enforcement and to the extent possible with russia and other countries. and what they were worried about was the danger of infiltration, and in spain there were dangerous side. you saw the maviass were starting to expand into areas like banking and business. there was a particular presence in the energy sector of bona fide gangsters trying to get in and there was an attempt at gas prom and lukoil and trying to
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move into there was blocked, and as you heard soccer is not only a huge cultural phenomenon and a huge business in spain and one of the signs that you could talk about as the infiltration, and i know jose is a fan of real madrid and so he'll be happy to hear me talk about the barcelona soccer which is their chief rival. one of the most wealthy and best known soccer teams in the world's head was a convicted drug trafficking at a certain point in the 2000s and the head of a soccer team who is being prosecuted now is accused now of being arrested of money laundering and they found alsoor also with the politics and police, there's some cases where targets of the special prosecutor's office was tipped off of their investigations. there was a moment when the
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catalan politician who was directed a couple years ago, 16,000 officers and one of the most important and prosperous regions in the country, he was convicted of being an accomplice of the russian mafia, and his -- and he would have -- the russian mafia would have had an accomplice running the catalan regional police which shows you some of the things they were coming up against. i think spain's crackdown is the most interesting because it's been the most sustained and dramatic. they have arrested some of the most important mafia bosses outside of -- arrested outside of russia, including the georgian kingpin. they have led europewide investigations of a particularly murderous georgia mafia which to show you just the kind of abscalls they gave up against when the spanish warrants were
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wanted, one of the suspects pays an $1,100 cash bribe and were able to escape from the police who were coming to arrest him on behalf of the spanish. you've heard of the petrov case who is the trial of the people now awaiting verdict, and in my estimates, and there's probably other experts here who know the cases, but one of the most strongest cases in the western court systems that details the evidence and workings of the high-level corruption of the putin regime where you have the spanish able to intercept phone calls, not just in spain but of people as they head back to russia and here and here bona fide gangsters treating cabinet ministers as business partners and people like the police general that you heard about as flunkies, and just the depth and the breadth and the specificity the way that threat that combines these different sectors of crime and intelligence and politics and business and the way it works. and there's also i think just to
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finish. the spanish have taken a very aggressive premise which is if there is a piece of international organization in their territory they follow it to the top. some of the oligarchs who have recently been sanctioned in the united states in the past weeks are others that jose grippeda has been investigating for years. in some cases have prosecuted and in other cases at least have been able to question and their cases have shed lights on all sorts of things. some are partners of paul manafort as you know who is in the news today. one of them is under investigation, alexander torvhin, reportedly under investigation for tries to the trump campaign and potentially illegal financing, so, again, the spanish case gives you a -- it's a window that you have to think about going beyond the spanish borders and it gives you a look into international activity. sometimes they start out at --
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have ultimately been rather meager, but there's no question that they have disrupted and dismantled and challenged these mavias and a large structure and the way that it's important. >> we know a lot with the us -- you know a lot of countries like the uk or greece or germany or you hear about it, there's a lot of places with a lot of work left to do, and i think the spanish model of cooperation is one, you know, that should be emulated. and, you know, just in closing, there's an expression i've first heard in sicily which means the armored life which means the life that cops who fight the mafia live, always surrounded by bodyguards and being aware of
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physical threats and the pressure to participate in a tactic. you hear next press all the time. you hear two people fighting the same fight. that's the fight that people like jose and his colleagues have chosen. i think it's very admirable, and it's a pleasure to be on this panel with him here today. thank you. [ applause ] ? >> thank you, sebastian. ben, does this bring any comments or questions to mind? >> first, i would hike to thank our guests for such a pan ram you are tour du force through russia and sprain and really sort of bringing to life not only the severity of the power but the power that these organizations now possess. i would like to make a -- wonkies comments that could be done in the united states in order to tackle the problem and
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what policy iproven that you should be pushing for in this country. when one studies the kind of chains of how these activities operates, one always finds the anonymous company. one finds the legal entity or the legal entity of llcs, the legal entity of the corporation stripped down to its purest of form, simply as a speed of paper or something used to cover up the crime or proceeds from, and it's very you are jebt that they seek to resolve the anonymous companies in this country. not only should it do that. it should make misleading agents or their equivalents, whereas
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creating these companies are a restriction. there's agents and our eke vent to make sure they are in constant concompliance. as long as you can hide the -- somebody control the aspect, it makes people sort of work like jose grinda gonzalez extremely difficult can, and it makes the life of a mafia kingpin extremely easy. how does one deal with these question ever infiltration that we were discussing. we already have the foreign agents rec nikes if this dates against the struggle against fash imthat needs to be raddy
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will arguing. the doj needs to announce a comprehensive power strategy and congress should finally allocate stuff resources for its implementation because if you want to be serious about fighting organized crime and defending national security, one need to provide the resources to do it. we -- it's also loopholes that could sometimes register under different disclosure acts and the time nance for registration for existing filings are endorsed. it's absolute essential when it comes to address these panel that the complete, broken and not fit for purpose in any
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public kins. the anti-monday undering system in this country -- they were operating essentially with cash, and it's not fit essentially to do anything else apart from catch those people. what needs to be done is there needs to be an extension of the anti-money laundering away from simply focusing on banks but focusing on other high-risk sectors which are not covered by anti-money laundering requirements such as the ones that listed whichiest xwrindal gonzalez. the the and other sort of rucksry industries. coke, again many we have a fundamental need or resources to be put behind questionsing is
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that i time in as we have still a 20th century and 1946 understanding of what is a national security threat in which when the united states faces problems that could potentially come in the form of an f-16 or a tank or something atomic or chemical, full resources are deployed in order to counteract even the possibility of so much a threat. when a national security threat comes in the norm rp off dirty money and in it comes in in the or as a lobbyist. proem. we need to have more resources given to the treasure and more.
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>> there ice a deeper problem in the united states with spain and that's an organized democracy and when you have over a dozen countries in this institution with overlapping goals and agendas, duplicate staff all trying to deal with financial regulations, it doesn't help you. it helps the -- it helps the sort of -- it helps the criminal sign of things and that there immediate to be regulatory consolidation for matters to do with argued crime and regulation. with may not be to be it be note. in a lex and educationalp and if the white house is unable or
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willing to do so, to issue combat flnts how to combat kleptocracy that congress can come up with it -- the usa needs to develop approaches where it can highlight the core national security danger of organized crime and russia organized crime and implement these strategies into nato and into collaboration with the european union and embed it in its diplomatic approach to countries which are -- with countries that are very much-at risk. >> i softic lime jose grinda says about how fighting organized crime is not fighting the russian people. there needs to be raising a
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raising awareness of kleptocracy in russia, and one area where it would be very effective would be consolidating frozen assets from russian organized crime into russian clepocracy into funds for the people. funds which would clearly be visible online and which could sort of sit there until a time in which russia has sort of returned to the rule of law, and it needs to be, you know -- it needs to be made extremely clear that western law enforcement is working to save for the russianing people for the benefit of the russian people. perhaps in a closing remark about raising awareness in russia is the importance of numbers, and -- and when you sort of study this field or when you study, one of the things
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they can do is release amsa of money that they think has been stolen from russia and how much they believe that this is costing the russian people to make people aware of these gigantic costs which i would sort of once ben thank our panelists for coming today. >> thanks, ben. much of what ben just described is contained in a report that we released recently called "countering russian clementocracy" who ben co-authored with nate sibley who can raise his hand perhaps, and we need to give nate a big thanks for helping to organize this event and all sorts of related activities and logistics in terms of judge grinda's
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visits, so thank you, nate. nate deserves a big hand. [ applause ] and nate is the program manager of the kleptocracy initiative and does everything from cow authors reports and organizing event, and to also produces this daily brief which we put out wit a lot of trouble and the we wants to sort of stop doing it for months and monies and monies that it's have i so a lot of people who were the actors and on-the-clementocracy space put it more specifically than perhaps i should rode this. we keep doing it, and made it spends a couple hours a day on that, so many of you may be signed up for it and if not i hope you -- yeah. are any of our reports out there, nate? they are all out there.
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okay, so i should say about countering russian clementocracy that this isn't necessarily about russia only. it's really about countering kleptocracy in general, but we thought we would give it a vivid title because that does seem to be a clear danger that everyone can recognize and there is nothing anti-russian about it, so, given the became they will turn tube and take some questions. if it's a could the none enemy and then maybe we can zing things a little beyond to go beyond 11:30 so that depends a little bit on your availability. as the audience shrinks to an embarrassing size, we will stop. so, please, now there will be a
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microphone or multiple microphones floating around, and if you could please identify yourself my name and adil as i, we will take it from there. sir. in the front. >> hello. my name is alexei bogdanovsky and i'm a russian reporter and my question is for mr. grinda gone les. you smoke about threats. i just want to ask you to speak in that regard how your life changed after this investigation begin. to you need to precautions in every kale, and the question is
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what is the level of your cooperation between the russian offices and prosecutors? you mentioned in many so of the cases you're pretty sure that they will continue the investigation against some people that you've indicted but probably in other cases it's not so. thank you. >> thank you. first of all, the threats that we organize in organized crime receive in general and people in general like me are two types. first, contrary to whitewash and represent owtation is smearing campaign, and they have done that to me.
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honestly, i don't care. i'm supported by my agency and by the spanish government and the second threat is a physical threat. i can't really say what's happening because there's an investigation against those that order my killing, and i can't really talk about someone who wants to kill me. i don't want to smear him. in any case, i'm quite confident regarding my social reputation, and i'm also quite confident regarding my personal integrity because my agency, the prosecutor's office and the national police are working hard on my -- providing me with security. i really hive in piece, and then regarding the second part of
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your question, our collaboration with the russian law enforcement why what to say. regarding, with the police itself, i don't know, and with the prosecutor's office, yes, we do have collaboration on a permanent basis, but it's not homogenous. sometimes if we don't feed the prosecutor's office, they cannot chew. >> i have a question about venezuela and andorra, and if this is a topic of interest for the prosecutor's office and whether you are investigating this. >> well, if i start talking about that, i think only three
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people will be left in the audience because we'll be here for five, six hours or maybe a few days even. just to be brief, because really it's such al huge topic. andorra, well, it's not a problem. the problem with private banks in andorra is very specific. if had great repercussions because the beiging system was fragilized but it was not systemic and in andorra, we have wonderful cooperation with andorra, with the police and as well as the prosecutor's office at a judicial level as well as another kind of cooperation like the one we have with finsan, the
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financial intelligence units, and that's another important issue. the issue of private banks in andorra, now, venezuelans who were clients of andorran banks, that situation could exist anywhere in the world. i think the problem with the banks in andorra is not the problem of venezuela. what is the problem with venezuela? i need hours to talk about that. briefly, the justice system has ongoing investigations in spain with regard to venezuelans have been stealing money from andorra and we're cooperating with andorra and portugal and the u.s. in this sense and i hope,
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and i'm not being ironic here, we hope to have the cooperation of venezuelan prosecutors, so what are we talking about here as far as stealing money is concerned. >> i think that as of the declaration of the emergency situation in 20 so there were a series of contracts with electric plants to generate electricity in venezuela. it's been a failure. many of the public businesses that awarded contracts or were awarded contracts for different works are being sought after by the united states, by spain and by others. we still need to prosecute those people who actually corrupted those public servants and advance lan politicians. we're talking about people in
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the u.s. and people in venezuela, although most of the people in venezuela came to the united states, and they are subject to investigation in the u.s., and there are suits and reports against venezuelans in venezuela because they are responsible for the impoverishment of the venezuelan people. >> okey-dokey. >> okay. thank you. the disheveled gentleman in the second row. >> my name is glen simpson, and i've run a research company here in washington. my question is about alexander torshin. i wanted to know, i think sebastien has noted that he appears to have been tipped off to his arrest warrant in spain. i wanted to know if any progress has been made in figuring out
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who tipped him off, how he's been found about it. whether he's been put on an interpol red in the and finally whether you've shared information with the u.s. government about mr.
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the man named iminof who has been convicted or romanof, and it seemed to us that there was criminal activity going on to the extent that in the 22nd of august i think it was 2013, he was waiting for mr. torsion to go to the birthday of mr. romanof and if he had arrived, we would have detained him. why? because we had tell foep conversations that led us to
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believe he was laundering money. and they both talk ed about the these two people. they knew them. as if they were friends. and currently, he has been convicted. he actually had a plea bargain with the prosecutor's office so we didn't investigate torshin because what we had at first which was clear evidence against him -- well, when we arrested romanoff in december of 2014, if i remember correctly, well, this evidence, well, kind of disbursed and so we never
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actually issued an indictment against him nor was there an international order issued against him, either. >> gentleman over there, please. >> steven blank, american foreign policy council. my question is for the -- is both sides wearing the same hat with regard to organized crime and media penetration in europe. >> translator: well, i don't know really. but what i do know is that the
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media is part of the defense of the state. it's a very active participation that the media has to take on and that exists in spain, that coordination of interest more than just coordination of interest of the state but rather of the country, of the society. in other words, an alignment. in spain as far as i know there has been no infiltration of organized crime in media outlets. in europe i do not know. i have no idea. in our investigations in spain we have not been attacked by the media with some few exceptions of if i may use the word [ inaudible ] media outlets and that is an insult, by the way.
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so there has been specific gentlemen to have attacked me and that's not why he is an -- necessarily but it's because it was for money, that's why they did it, not because of my character. so when i say that i don't know, perhaps you think i don't want to say that, no, i just -- i really have no idea. >> the issue that we just experienced -- not the usual language we use around here. oh, yes, sebastian. >> just an immediate point. having covered latin america where i saw cases of journalists or even media outlets being directly instruments of the behalf in a in one way or the other directed to drug cartels or intelligence certainly, certainly in in western europe i haven't seen that. there are cases in some country
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where oligarchs or people connected to them have moved to acquire media-related businesses. so there you start to wonder -- and the other thing would be to the extent that there are political parties in europe, including in countries like italy and france that have strong connections to and are sympathetic with the refresh chic in russia and have gone as far important political leaders in some of those countries saying things like they don't believe that the poisoning in salisbury -- that countries don't do that. they don't believe that any country would try to poison anybody line that. to the extent political leaders that have media sympathetic to them are taking that line you could see how that could start to seep in. certainly the other thing that you've seen, for example, in the
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catalin crisis and this isn't really media but the kind of fake news, bots, propaganda activity that has been attributed to russian-connected forces in other parts of the west were certainly on display, a lot of objective analysts have said in catalonia, so that's worrisome in terms of fake news, continuing what has seemed to be a strategy of fullmenting division and chaos and all that. i think that has been on display in the catalin crisis. seen as a russian/venezuela connection. >> just to reiterate that i have to deal with this problem like the first essential tool is transparency, you need to bring as much transparency as possible in order to reveal situations like this happening in the media and that means bringing transparency to corporate structures, tax declarations in order to help law enforcement do its job. a second thing that we really need is reporting requirements, more reporting requirements in order to make sure money laundering is not happening on sectors they are not covered, you know, like -- like sort of property, like lawyers, like hedge funds. capacity building we don't have enough people dealing with this.
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you have a handful of people working as bank examiners but then you have tens of thousands of people working on redundant national security issues just because that's how the bureaucratic inertia works. one thing that i didn't talk about last time is we really need legal tools. the crisis in the united kingdom is a well explained wealth order which places onus on an individual from an at risk country in order to explain where his wealth comes from. that's something you urgently need to bring here. you need integration of these topics into the national security framework and international security doctrine, but finally there is this question of the fourth estate and whether -- even though the fourth estate may not feature as a classical branch of political theory when it comes to understanding a democratic system it functions as such. what we are seeing in europe and well thought of. the o niehaus. where it comes from. to bring the topics into the national security.
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the launch of the functions as, properly online platforms which are destroy iing the ability of the fourth estate to finance itself. journalists, journalism to be funded, we need to move so that these monopoly platforms are forced -- are forced to either enumerate platforms for the content that they drive their clicks from allowing meme to share or that they pay taxes -- pay higher taxes which can then be used to support -- support journalism in the manner of the bbc or other european formats.
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and allowing these monopoly online platforms to operate in the way they do is first off bad for democracy and bad for fighting organized crime. >> any other questions? sir. we will get the microphone to you. >> i'm going to speak is spanish. >> could you identify yourself. >> translator: i am javier roberos, i was ambassador of spain to the united states between 2001 and 2004. the first time i heard about prosecutor gringa was in a book by karen davica who was a regular presence here and who we regret has died.
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she wrote a book which was called "createns kleptocracy" and she favorably talked about prosecutor grinda, she hailed all of his actions taken against the russian mafia. this book has only been published in the united states because in the uk they didn't dare publish it. they were concerned that there would be a liable suit filed, and she said that the problem isn't that the mafia exists in russia, but that the state is a mafia state and that the head of that mafia organization or state is vladimir putin so it's a criminal state she asserted, not
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just a criminal gang or one more criminal gang. do you share this analysis, what she put forward, her thesis, do you share this? >> translator: do i have to deal with this? okay. well, there's a book in spain, it was written by a media outlet abc, it's a newspaper in spain -- well, the name of the book is "the word of vor", word of thieves. i have to speak as a prosecutor. in my investigations in spain i have not validated that thesis, not at all. what i have said is that what we perceive is that there is a very high level corruption of russia, we have been fighting against that and in part with the cooperation of russian
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prosecutors, the rest is, well, your reading of it, believing in people. mr. livanenko, for example, had that thesis, he asserted that, and he is dead and there is an investigation in the uk -- well, there were two that i knew about actually or that i -- that existed, i believe, one to see who had killed alexander
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livanenko, two specific people were identified and then there was a different proceeding about the reasons why those two people killed him. the british judge thought it was probable that the russian state had participated in this killing. i've always said in the meeting that i had with mr. livanenko i was very critical of him because i believed he was have the secret services and he had worked with mr. bararovski who was an oligarch so i thought that relationship was -- well, it would not exist if he was
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going to cooperate with spanish justice, but he did cooperate with us and i fully trust, although this is many years later, i fully trust his words. he was an honorable man. i know he wanted to collaborate with us and he did. i don't know any other kind of cooperation he might have had, but he also has -- which descends the thesis which you have just asserted and i have not detected that this thesis is true. i don't want to criticize it, i don't want to support it because i -- >> -- ben became famous at the age of 23 with his book about the russian empire. do you want to touch this? you don't have to.
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>> you don't have to -- >> i have a slightly different thesis when it comes to russia. something that i personally think is that there are actually limits to a kleptocracy paradigm in understanding the motivations of russian politicians and that a certain point of view in thinking that the russian elites motivations can uniquely be explained in terms of maximizing profits and maximizing rents only goes so far and doesn't explain the full necessity they have to embark on struggle and collusion with the west. i think a kleptocracy framework is useful but i think i personally got the more paired down version of it. in the early 2000s it was very popular in academia, for obvious reasons there was an overfocus on trying to find ideologies behind the putin regime. it took ideology, i think, much too seriously in trying to understand how the kremlin worked. now there haven't in the
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mainstream enough interrogation of the besieged fort tress, what they mean, what the russian establishment has come to believe about certain things and how it's propagating ideologies and pumping them into institutions and network institutions from the whole secret service world, it really is a world of private schools and private hunting lodges and into the bureaucracy and into the military. i think that when we talk about russia a comment that one receives from russian officials and then media, media, media sock puppets is you're talking about fragment remains of the 1990s. they do have a point here which is that the -- certainly the
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discussion in the media we get is an overfocus on a generation of ambitious 1990 oligarchs heavy criminal lysed, but you have these sort of western global financial ambitions and there isn't enough discussion of these other generations of kleptocrats which either don't have a.m. missions on a global scale or know it won't be possible for them to achieve or the generation of putin oligarchs whose motivations have become a lot more blurred, it's still -- it's still there. just this bottom line which is that a purely kleptocratic russian elite would not have embarked on the policies it has over the last five or six years. you need to think of russia as a fusion of kleptocracy and ideology and, you know, what is a very real kind of bureaucratic and repressive mechanism in my opinion. >> do you want to comment or leave this one -- >> just briefly, i mean, i would have to spend -- i've spent many years covering powerful mafias
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where the lines between the mafia and the state blur around the world, particularly latin america, countries like mexico, argentina, guatemala which different people have talked about as models of penetration of the state by mafias and italy and other places. i don't think i've covered russia long enough or in depth enough to assert a thesis like that which a journalist probably shouldn't assert anyway unless he's written a very long article or a short book on it or a long book. but certainly my work so far through looking at this issue
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and comparing it to others is i haven't seen in other places where i've covered very powerful, very dangerous mafias this blurring that the spanish cases show very well of organized crime, intelligence and law enforcement services, the business world and politics. i mean, the way those things all come together in the model of eurasian mafias is remarkable and disturbing as some of the specific cases. >> i'd like to ask a question actually to sort of -- to our honored guest which is have any -- or have in any of your cases have you come across any individuals linked to trump or linked to people linked to trump? >> just to shift gears radically. >> no. >> no. all right. >> let me continue to -- with this question, the official position of course is that we don't have one.
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the hudson institute is a think tank and doesn't take official positions of this sort, but i think the answer is we don't care. in other words, we don't care what you call it. what we're concerned about is u.s. national security and nothing is going to be 100%. i mean, this thesis of the russian mafia state obviously it's not -- it's never completely true, but we do think that obviously and we work closely with, care and wish that it is an interesting paradigm in terms of understanding what's going on and particularly in understanding the extent to which the st. petersburg group has increasingly increased its power within the russian state. that is at this point a factual descriptive one might say. i don't think too many people
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including those involved would question this a whole lot. they are not spending a lot of time trying to debunk that. so i think it is now almost quarter of noon. i think we can end on that and thank you, ambassador, very much for your question which is a wonderful note to end on. thank you and thank you all for coming. [ applause ]
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tomorrow, mike spence speaking at the faith and freedom conference in washington. it starts at 6:30 on cspan then sunday on cspan, ohio republican congressman jim jordan, a cofounder of the congressal freedom caucus is on news makers, where he talks about immigration and who will replace
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paul ryan. sunday at 10:00 a.m. and :00 p.m. eastern on cspan. sunday on q&a. ross diawfit talks about his book, to change the church, pope francis an the future of kai thol schism. >> he thinks the church needs to change in various ways, particularly i think around issues related to the sexual revolution. marriage. divorce and so on. where prior popes basically said these are changes the church can't make. so there have been these sort of fraught places in his pontificate where he has clashed with cardinals and bishops and theologians over just how far he can push the church to change, what the church can exchange u without undercutting its

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