At a time when democracies and their basic values are increasingly under attack, the iconic American company has helped raise the stature of authoritarian and corrupt governments across the globe, sometimes in ways that counter American interests.
Its clients have included Saudi Arabia’s absolute monarchy, Turkey under the autocratic leadership of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and corruption-plagued governments in countries like South Africa.
In Ukraine, McKinsey and Paul Manafort ... were paid by the same oligarch to help burnish the image of a disgraced presidential candidate, Viktor F. Yanukovych, recasting him as a reformer.
Once in office, Mr. Yanukovych rebuffed the West, sided with Russia and fled the country, accused of stealing hundreds of millions of dollars. The events set off years of chaos in Ukraine and an international standoff with the Kremlin.
Inside Russia itself, McKinsey has worked with Kremlin-linked companies that have been placed under sanctions by Western governments — companies that the firm helped build up over the years and, in some cases, continues to advise.
It has consulted in many sectors of the Russian economy, including mining, manufacturing, oil and gas, banking, transportation and agriculture. A McKinsey official sat on the Russian government’s energy board. Former McKinsey consultants have gone to work in the Russian companies they once advised.