Countering Russian Illicit Finance & serious organised crime

This research will develop an innovative approach to understanding ‘organised criminal corruption’ in the context of Russia through a new conceptual framework designed to improve our understanding of Russian IFFs and SOC in order to sharpen policy responses.

The team is collating and re-examining a long data set of existing journalistic and government investigative reports and existing primary academic research that detail interactions between the Russian state and IFF in order to develop a new conceptual framework to explain linkages between Russian IFF and Russian foreign policyThey will categorise the spectrum of activities under the broad terms Russian IFF/SOC using the dataset as the evidence base and will then develop the new conceptual approach that assesses patterns of interaction between IFF and Russian foreign policy. Following this, they will conduct three case-studies of how illicit finance has influenced or been used by Russian foreign policy actors.

Research questions

  1. how do we conceptualise and categorise different activities in the broad domain of Russian IFF and SOC? 
  2. who are the actors/networks engaging in illicit money flows abroad, and to which extent are they connected to the Kremlin?
  3. in the observed interaction of illicit finance and foreign policy, can we observe a ‘masterplan’ or strategy, and what is its characteristics? 
  4. what are the mechanisms by which the furthering of Russian foreign policy aims is carried out through illicit finance?
  5. are major shifts in Russian foreign policy accompanied by shifts in IFF mechanisms?
  6. what does a more robust understanding of the connections between Russian foreign policy and Russian IFF mean for UK national security policy?

Expected impact

The aim of the research is to understand the intersection between Russia’s formal foreign policy directions and its informal, illicit financial flows, in order that UK foreign policy-makers may better anticipate, understand, and respond to growing Russian influence overseas.


Dr Catherine Owen


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Catherine Owen

Principal Investigator
Dr Catherine Owen

Tena PrelacCo-Investigator
Dr Tena Prelec 

Thomas MayneCo-Investigator
Dr Thomas Mayne