A former Russian correspondent explores the secretive system of global kleptocracy and how the institutions of Europe and the United States have become its money-laundering operations, attacking the foundations of many of the world's most stable countries.
Bullough approaches his forbidding task by coming up with clear, snappy metaphors for the offshore world and how it works. He explains them, and then deploys them again and again, like catchphrases or portentous images in a novel ... Bullough’s concise, confident book is full of...jaw-dropping examples. It also covers a lot of historical ground ... Some of this narrative is a bit too neat. The political forces for and against offshore capitalism, and how they ebbed and flowed during the 20th century are scarcely mentioned. Instead, as if narrating a documentary, Bullough sometimes searches too self-consciously for colorful characters and locations. But more often his busy and determined reporting from the Caribbean, eastern and western Europe and the U.S.—south-east Asia and the Middle East feature perhaps less than they should—produces memorable and telling scenes ... He is surprisingly successful at getting some of the architects of the offshore world to open up ... Bullough’s book is pacy, clever and far more entertaining than you’d expect of a work on this subject. Sometimes it moves so fast you suspect that nervous lawyers have been involved. At other times, you wish he’d written about the offshore manoeuvrings of tax-averse mainstream corporations as well. But if you still have any illusions about the wonders of liberated capitalism, Moneyland will probably cure you.
After years of exhaustive investigative research for the book he also calls Moneyland, Bullough offers not just a bill of particulars spanning continents but a polemic about the dangers of a global cancer that must be exposed and combated. In dizzying detail, Bullough takes us on a tour of Moneyland, a place one part defined by geography and several parts more by demography ... Bullough offers in sometimes excessive detail anecdotes of the rich and not-so-famous secreting fortunes, often through webs of interlocking trusts that disguise identity and place assets beyond the reach of governments ... Like all polemics, this one is strong on passion, but even with ample examples, the assertion that Moneyland is a fatal rot does not make it so. Corruption may weaken open institutions in countries where they were never entrenched, but is that cause or effect? Bullough brilliantly uncovers the scope of hidden money, but whether that represents an existential threat to democracy remains an unresolved, and crucial, question.
An indefatigable investigative journalist, Bullough has traveled the world, from Siberia to the Seychelles, to untangle this web of deceit, avarice, and amorality. The result is an eye-opening and stomach-churning exposé of financial transgressions on a global scale that threatens democracy and the institutions charged with its protection.