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Summary

From ruined towns on the edge of Siberia to Bond-villain lairs in Knightsbridge and Manhattan, something has gone wrong with the workings of the world. 

Once upon a time, if an official stole money, there wasn't much he could do with it. He could buy himself a new car or build himself a nice house or give it to his friends and family, but that was about it. If he kept stealing, the money would just pile up in his house until he had no rooms left to put it in, or it was eaten by mice. And then some bankers in London had a bright idea. 

Join the investigative journalist Oliver Bullough on a journey into Moneyland - the secret country of the lawless, stateless super-rich. Learn how the institutions of Europe and the United States have become money-laundering operations, undermining the foundations of Western stability.

Discover the true cost of being open for business no matter how corrupt and dangerous the customer. Meet the kleptocrats. Meet their awful children. And find out how heroic activists around the world are fighting back. This is the story of wealth and power in the 21st century. It isn't too late to change it.

©2018 Oliver Bullough (P)2019 W. F. Howes Ltd

Critic reviews

"You cannot understand power, wealth and poverty without knowing about Moneyland." (Simon Kuper, New Statesman)  

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Fascinating investigation

You will race through this book. Highly recommended.
Moneyland is a fascinating insight into the murky world of how the super wealthy and super corrupt hide their fortunes.
It will make you furious, not only with the super wealthy, those dictators and kleptocrats, but also the banks, the middlemen, the small islands in the Atlantic, the clandestine Swiss culture, the lawyers and all the other enablers in the chain that make up the cast of this book. As a Londoner, I felt particularly aggrieved at the City's role in the story.

With each chapter, you do feel like your soul is being squeezed a little more with every new tale of the ruthless pursuit of greed, but the author uncovers and explains the processes so elegantly and vividly, that a layperson like me could understand how these tricks are deployed and that at least someone is digging.

Even though the author does a remarkable investigation, you still get the sense that there is so much more out there that is shielded from all attempts to uncover, so I hope a sequel is in the works - hopefully, one where more people end up in prison!

Really well read by the author too.

16 people found this helpful

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Makes you quite angry

It is rather depressing and angry-making hearing how western lawyers and bankers, particularly here in London, help kleptocrats and dictators the world over move and then spend their stolen and extorted cash. How you can buy citizenship from a range of compliant countries, from tiny islands trying to make a buck once cast off into impecunious independence, to paid up members of the EU - or go one better and buy diplomatic immunity by becoming a diplomat of some tin-pot state. The USA made some progress breaking the banking secrecy laws of Switzerland - but then refused to reciprocate with the rest of the world, and now offers tax havens on-shore in the US for non-US citizens. Oliver Bullough is a naturally witty and sunny person, and his writing reflects this joyful personality, somewhat countering what would be a rather sombre subject.

Narration : Bullough reads his own book and is not a professional actor. However, he gives it a jolly good try and his enthusiasm and natural wit carry it off, making the delivery very personal and enjoyable.

16 people found this helpful

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A Good Exposé but....

My main criticism of the relates to the title. “Moneyland: Why Thieves And Crooks Now Rule The World And How To Take It Back”. The part detailing why and how thieves rule the world is very good. Detailed and well researched it shines a light on the dirty underbelly of our societies. However the part of the title that states “how to take it back” didn’t really appear. Perhaps it was implied. In fact my takeaway from the book was that as soon as laws get made to tackle the issues and crimes in moneyland, new loopholes are immediately created and the law becomes leaky at best, obsolete at worst. It’s almost as if the “how to take it back” part is futile.

13 people found this helpful

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Needs a bit of editing

It’s a bit long and verbose, there are quicker ways to get the point. It felt a bit like being back at university!

5 people found this helpful

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Misleading title

Interesting listen but does not live up to its promise. This book does describe (very well) why thieves and crooks now rule the world, but offers almost no useful advice on how to take if back.

5 people found this helpful

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Shocking!

Moneyland is a shocking glimpse into the world of the ostentatious and half-visible super rich. If you don't feel righteous anger after listening to what Mr. Bullough has to say then you're either thick or in on the scam. I expected a dry, technical report but instead got a fast-paced and hard-hitting account of a complex global phenomenon which underlies many of the problems the average person in society faces today. This is something we need to deal with immediately. I thoroughly recommend this audio book.

5 people found this helpful

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The root of all evil transcends national borders

We live in a world where money can buy just about anything. According to the author of this book Oliver Bullough (pronounced "Bull - Oh") the ultra rich live in a place called Moneyland where anything is possible including citizenship in low tax territories and, the greatest prize of all, diplomatic immunity from the law which seemingly can be purchased by making a donation to a cash strapped country. Moneyland exists anywhere that people want to hold funds outside governments. Money moves freely, laws do not.

Bullough traces the roots of the current world order back to the Bretton Woods agreement at the end of World War II to impose fixed exchange rates between their currencies and the US dollar with the intention of encouraging international collaboration and trade. The inception of Eurobonds in the 1960s gave high net worth individuals greater ability to move their wealth around the world and independence of some small countries from their colonial masters gave rise to "tax havens" and jurisdictions that did not ask too many questions when accepting deposits.

For many very rich people, taking advantage of arrangements such as off shore trusts and complex corporate structures is simply efficient tax planning and enables them to steer clear of public scrutiny. Unfortunately for them, it would seem, Moneyland is also inhabited by criminals and corrupt government officials who want to stash away their ill gotten bounty without too many questions being asked. The author describes some of these shell company structures as like using a plastic bag to pick up a dog turd, it keeps your hands clean.

There is no shortages of territories that are willing to hold wealth and shelter taxes including the UK Channel Islands, Caribbean islands such as Nevis and Bermuda, micro-states such as Liechtenstein and Monaco in addition to the previously secretive Swiss banking system. Following the economic crisis of 2008, however, some high profile Swiss banks were embarrassingly for them, forced to disclose the names of account holders by US regulators. This was only a minor blip for Moneyland and Swiss banks have been replaced, ironically enough, with trusts in Nevada and South Dakota as the favoured place to stash their money.

The scale of funds held by the ultra rich are quite simply staggering and I would encourage anyone to read this book who has a passing interest in global economics.

4 people found this helpful

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worth the credit!

Great voice, interesting topic. Would listen again.
Well researched and look forward to any more work from Oliver

4 people found this helpful

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Super interesting

It’s hard not to be shocked by the content of this book. It must have been very difficult to research and write as the author is putting himself in harms way even telling the stories. The only critique is that the author reads the text a little too fast, at some points, making complicated stories difficult to follow. So I had to rewind a few times to fully understand what was being said, at times. But for the most part it was ok. The authors voice varied a bit throughout the book, in a way I’ve not seen in other audio books, but this wasn’t a problem, just an observation. The author did an amazing job with this book and did it justice in the reading! Definitely worth a listen!

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Great research and compelling story telling

I don’t really understand the other criticism of this book I found this book fascinating and exceedingly well researched. It has clearly taken decades of the authors work to compile this and he does an excellent t job of presenting it in a way that reads a bit like a who-dun-it. The narration is also very good.

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  • Orca
  • 03-09-20

A bit half baked

The book as a whole lacks structure so that it reads, rather ploddingly, like a write-up of the author's notes - a travelogue more than a serious treatise. It makes for an anecdotal style overall that undermines the profundity and implications of Bullough's thesis. Also there are whopping omissions. No mention of the Panama papers, or the mortal dangers that more forensic investigators have encountered. Interesting, but definitely a missed opportunity.