When the Cold War ended, long-closed doors in Russia swung open to admit Western capital, Western goods, and even Western-style politics. Those same open doors allowed the export of one of Russia's most refined commodities: corruption. The reach of that corruption was driven home recently when the largest money-laundering case in U.S. history made the news.
The effects have been far-reaching. The reputation of one of America's oldest and largest financial institutions, the Bank of New York, has been tarnished. The International Monetary Fund is rethinking the way it lends and tracks money in corruption-plagued countries. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright has publicly warned the Russian government to clean up corruption or risk losing loans, and the House of Representatives is poised to investigate the Clinton administration's lack of oversight.