Chayes began working on corruption as a small entrepreneur living and working in downtown Kandahar, Afghanistan, in the midst of a rising insurgency. After several years working to convince U.S. officials that they could not achieve peace and stability in Afghanistan without addressing systemic corruption and the role of the international community enabling and reinforcing it, she wrote "Thieves of State: Why Corruption Threatens Global Security," which won the 2016 LA Times Book Prize. Since then, she has been analyzing the structure and operating principles of kleptocratic networks.

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Sarah Chayes


Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

Professional Title

Senior Fellow


  • Europe and Central Asia
  • Middle East and North Africa




Corruption not as the work of individual bad apples, but rather as the operating system of sophisticated networks, weaving together government officials, business leaders, and out-and-out criminals. How this brand of corruption helps fuel security crises, such as violent extremism, revolutions and their aftermaths, and mass protests that have brought down half a dozen governments in the past few years. The cultural, as well as the material, role of money and the financial industry.

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