Oliver Bullough (@OliverBullough) is a journalist, a regular contributor to The Guardian, and author of Moneyland: Why Thieves and Crooks Now Rule the World and How to Take It Back.

What We Discuss with Oliver Bullough:

  • How corrupt leaders pilfer everything from wildlife reserves, banks, and even national healthcare systems.
  • How this type of graft corrupts society and leads to other crime and unrest — such as terrorism and flawed elections.
  • How corruption filters down the economic food chain, harming children and those who can’t defend themselves.
  • How dark money can be used for a host of unsavory purposes, and why it’s nearly impossible to uncover it because of shell corporations, passports for sale, and the fact that dark money knows no borders.
  • What we might do to begin reeling in this lopsided power structure from its offshore roots in a way that benefits the fair-playing majority.
  • And much more…

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Moneyland: Why Thieves and Crooks Now Rule the World and How to Take It BackWhat would you do if you had more money than you could spend in multiple lifetimes? Donate some of it to charity? Use it to seed innovations and solve the world’s biggest problems? Or hide most of it offshore like a miserly dragon guarding a hoard of stolen treasure from the grubby, greedy masses and take steps to ensure your incoming supply is never-ending — no matter who gets hurt in the process?

In this episode we talk to journalist Oliver Bullough about his latest book, Moneyland: Why Thieves and Crooks Now Rule the World and How to Take It Back. He’ll explain why most of the people with this unique problem choose to hide their money, how they use their power to keep it out of reach, what enabled this power structure to emerge in the first place, and what we can do to level the playing field for those of us who do play fair. Listen, learn, and enjoy!

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More About This Show

A young journalist just out of university, Oliver Bullough moved to Russia in 1999 as the Soviet Union was being dismantled with optimism that he would be on the front lines of a society making the transition from authoritarianism to democracy. Instead, he wound up writing about war, terrorism, human rights abuses, and dictatorship — the unintended consequences of a collapsing power structure and the vacuum left behind.

“When I started thinking about what was behind all those bad things…essentially, it’s corruption,” says Oliver, author of Moneyland: Why Thieves and Crooks Now Rule the World and How to Take It Back. “It’s kleptocracy. It’s the abuse of power by the powerful in order to steal everything that’s not nailed down, and to launder that money in various tax havens and then to buy luxury goods with it.

“That realization came to me in Ukraine in 2014 when they just had a revolution which was, to a large extent, caused by anger about corruption and the fact that the country’s government and president were stealing everything they could and I realized — this wasn’t a secret. People already knew these things, but it was a secret to me. I realized that the reason they were able to steal so much stuff is because they were hiding all of their assets behind British companies. Being British, this struck me as extraordinary. It never occured to me this was happening.

“So I went back to Britain and looked into it…and it turned out this wasn’t just something Ukrainians were doing; people from all over the world were using British companies, British banks, British lawyers and accountants to essentially launder their stolen money in order to keep it and that this is a major cause of misery around the world. And that was the starting point for this particular journey.”

Listen to this episode in its entirety to learn more about why Russia and some former Soviet republics gave way to rampant corruption when the Iron Curtain came down while others didn’t, how “good” guys in established Western democracies have been complicit in this corruption all along, how simple corruption evolves into advanced kleptocracies that benefit only a small percentage of the population while exploiting the rest, why Oliver calls the kleptocracy-supporting structures of offshore banking “Moneyland” and how it operates as a very real place — albeit invisible to 99 percent of us, how citizenship to Moneyland grants the rich and powerful immunity from the laws that govern and control the rest of us, what we might do to begin reeling in this lopsided power structure from its offshore roots in a way that benefits the fair-playing majority, and much more.


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