WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Congressman Bill Keating (D-MA 9th District) has introduced legislation aimed at combatting the “weaponization of corruption” by the Russian government.

Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia, Energy, and the Environment, Keating introduced the “Countering Russian and Other Overseas Kleptocracy Act,” known as the CROOK Act.  Joining him on the bill is Congressman Tom Suozzi (NY-03) and Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-01).

“Russia and other authoritarian states have weaponized corruption, and exposing and countering that malign influence is a priority of our Foreign Affairs Subcommittee,” said Keating.

“For too long, Russian President Vladimir Putin and other Russian politicians and oligarchs have acted with impunity, manipulating U.S. and European financial systems to move and disguise their ill-gotten gains.  Their illicit funds are being used to control key economic sectors, fund political parties and organizations that advance Russian interests, and manipulate political processes and policies.  The CROOK Act will help prevent Russian and other forms of kleptocracy from eroding democracy, security, and rule of law.”

The legislation reaffirms U.S. policy to support key partners in promoting good governance and combatting corruption.  It would establish an Anti-Corruption Action Fund to assist governments and nongovernmental organizations in their efforts to prevent, investigate, and combat corruption and bribery, and establish an interagency task force to coordinate assistance efforts.

“Corruption stemming from hostile foreign actors like Russia harms the promotion of democratic reforms in countries where they are needed,” said Congressman Fitzpatrick.

“To counter the weaponization of corruption, the United States must double down on its work to promote the rule of law abroad and act quickly when reformers come to power.”

On Thursday, the House passed an amendment by fellow Massachusetts Congressman Joe Kennedy III (D-MA 4th District) to the Intelligence Authorization Act, which will create a Foreign Threat Response Center for elections in the United States.

The Center is expected to provide a comprehensive assessment of foreign efforts to influence United States' political processes and elections by the Governments of Russia, Iran, North Korea, China, and any other foreign country determined appropriate.