Jorge Jraissati

Venezuelan activist & President, Organization for Economic Inclusion

Jorge Jraissati is the President of the Organization for Economic Inclusion, a global coalition uniting youth leaders, industry experts, and policymakers. Its mission is to safeguard democracy by advancing economic inclusion and opportunity, especially among the youth. The organization’s areas of focus include advocating for financial reforms that guarantee a “right to banking” for all people and ensuring that young people have representation in policy decisions.

Jraissati is also an economist and a researcher at IESE Business School for the Center for Public Leadership and Government. His research has been published in Economic Affairs, the Brookings Institution, and Foreign Policy, among others. His policy recommendations have been supported by institutions like the OECD, and presented at universities like Harvard and Cambridge. Jorge has bachelor’s degrees in economics and business administration from the Wilkes Honors College of FAU, as well as executive diplomas in management from Stanford University, IESE Business School, and Harvard Business School.


Testimonial of Jorge Jraissati:

The use of Bitcoin as a tool to overcome financial and political oppression:

As President of the Organization for Economic Inclusion (a global coalition of youth leaders, industry experts and policymakers), I would like to discuss and work on addressing the problem of financial exclusion and abuse of Anti-Money Laundering/Combating the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) regulations.

In essence, we have identified that authoritarian regimes and illiberal governments have been abusing FATF recommendations, weaponizing the international banking system as a tool for domestic and transnational repression.

As these states abuse power, activists and youth leaders in my network have turned to Bitcoin as their “bank of last resort.” We have been involved in initiatives that use Bitcoin to support activists in over fifty countries.

For instance, in authoritarian countries like Venezuela and Myanmar and illiberal democracies like Bolivia and Hungary, many of our activists reported that their bank accounts were used by regimes to create false political claims, disinformation, and legal accusations against them. We have also documented sixty cases where grassroots leaders reported the termination of their bank accounts for political reasons. Similarly, activists of our organization from fifteen countries (such as Venezuela, Uganda, Nigeria, Ghana, Belarus, Russia, Burundi, Rwanda, Chad, Bangladesh, Lebanon, Sudan, Pakistan, Myanmar, and Tanzania) have reported using bitcoin as their bank of last resort as protection from political repression because of the abuse of the FATF recommendations that shape AML/CFT laws.

An even more worrisome situation lies in the fact that financial exclusion for political reasons is not limited to authoritarian contexts. The public seems to think that activists in exile are safe from financial exclusion. However, many human rights defenders currently living in democratic countries are deprived of the right to have financial services. This happens as activists are often the target of disinformation campaigns and fabricated criminal allegations, which trigger de-risking mechanisms in bank compliance.

This means that bank compliance requirements that were originally established to adhere to AML/CFT laws end up harming human rights defenders even at the very heart of the European Union and several democratic countries, violating the right to financial services. In fact, this problem goes beyond the termination of their accounts. Currently, several transnational legal assistance frameworks allow malicious governments to access sensitive information of their opponents abroad, including their banking data. This practice can endanger even the physical safety of these citizens.

For these reasons, we have to address this issue. It is frustrating to see authoritarian regimes developing tools for transnational repression based on the FATF standards and Recommendations, such as FATF recommendation 8 on non-profit organizations. We propose to create spaces for dialogue between regulators and civil society in G7 countries. This cooperation will enable us to build mechanisms to prevent the unintended consequences of the FATF standards, as well as instruments to protect the financial rights of all law-abiding citizens, including vulnerable groups like human rights activists and immigrants from rogue states like Venezuela.

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