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Kleptopia: How Dirty Money Is Conquering the World

3.84  ·  Rating details ·  542 ratings  ·  94 reviews
A Washington Post Notable Book of the Year • An Economist Book of the Year

“A must-read for anyone wanting to better understand what has already happened here in America and what lies ahead if Trump is reelected in November…. A magisterial account of the money and violence behind the world’s most powerful dictatorships.” –Washington Post

In this shocking, meticulously re
ebook, 464 pages
Published September 8th 2020 by Harper (first published September 2020)
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Amanda Youngs
Aug 26, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was far from an easy read - or listen (I had the audio book as well).

But it's very worthwhile, if you're interested in seeing how global the business of dirty money and money laundering is these days. It genuinely spans the world, although Russia and the US, Khazakstan and China feature as well as the UK.

I admit that it's a dense book. You have to really concentrate to follow who features where and in which country, but a great deal of painstaking research has gone into finding these links,
Oct 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
Tom deserves billions in a Swiss account for having kept track of difficult people with difficult names. It so deserves a screenplay. Trump and likes won't like it, sure. But it'll be like a combination of the Godfather, Goodfellas, and The Wolf of Wall Street. Maybe, the Malaysian kleptocrat would like funding another masterpiece with his dirty money. Hm. That'll be fascinating.

Anyway. It was a tiring read. My eyes hurt, my brain's shut down. But at least I know with sufficient real-life examp
Rohit Enghakat
Feb 18, 2021 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
A fast paced book and a look at the world of money laundering, corruption, billionaires and oligarchs. The author has done a good job researching the events, mainly in Russia, Kazakhstan, USA and UK. Asia does not feature here except for some references.

The title of the book caught my attention. The blurb was even more promising. But sadly the book did not live up to its promise. It was hard to keep track of the stories and even harder to keep track of the characters flitting in and out. It was
Oct 21, 2020 rated it it was ok
The book had a lot of promise, but overall I would say I did feel disappointment after finishing it.
There are just too many threads and characters. I admire all the research mr. Burgis must have put into writing this book, but I think it would have been better to focus on just one story or one character (mr. Wilkins, mr. Sater, mr. Mashkevich) or one storyline (either the illicit financial flows, the tax dodging strategies, the covering up by financial institutions in the City of London, or the
Robert Cowper-Coles
Charts Nigel Wilkins brave attempts to uncover the wealth management practises at Swiss Bank BSI. He died before this book was written.

BSI was set up in the early 20th century, and became key in the 1930s by helping wealthy Jews hide money, and then during WW2 by managing wealthy Nazis’s wealth in Switzerland.
Nigel was sacked from his compliance work at BSI after uncovering mass fraud during the 08 crisis (when most fraud happens and is a great excuse for banks to exit countries to his evidenc
Daniel Warriner
Dec 01, 2020 rated it liked it
A tough read filled with schemes and twists, a torrent of money laundering, murder ordered from the top, and (for me) difficult-to-pronounce names. Kleptopia (2020), by Tom Burgis, is a dark but briskly told tale about the world's biggest thieves and the flow of riches they loot, with a focus on Washington, Moscow, Kazakhstan, Swiss banks, London, and the Congo. Exhaustively researched, the myriad stories Burgis unfolds, many crossing over others, are centered around a bunch of powerful crooks w ...more
Nov 30, 2020 rated it it was ok
Burgis has produced an interesting and important book detailing some of the financial malfeasance that is happening across the world. Unfortunately, the three or four stories presented here keep jumping around and I found it very difficult to keep straight what was happening and where the actual malfeasance was happening.

I didn't really follow the chapter on Trump and couldn't really understand what he was being accused of doing that was wrong. It's a shame that Burgis has included that chapter
Alex Bitter
Dec 03, 2020 rated it it was ok
Not what I was expecting. Was hard to follow on audio book keeping up with all of the names and companies. Disappointed.
James Schneider
Jan 23, 2021 rated it really liked it
Kleptopia is a page turning expose of global corruption that seems like it was conjured up for a Hollywood script, but unfortunately is appallingly real. Kleptopia does a great job shedding light on the grip dirty money has over the world. It does not inspire hope but is worth the read.
Feb 14, 2021 rated it really liked it
When kleptocrats of the world meet Swiss and London banks to handle the stash, a mutual don't ask don't tell culture quickly emerges (or perhaps remains is a more precise word). Mostly I was surprised by the small and timid efforts of regulators and law enforcement, also seemingly being caught in a competition for providing best terms to large accounts. ...more
Rob Schmults
Feb 16, 2021 rated it liked it
What a mess of a book - the writing is a jumble, the author can’t seem to decide on a focused line early on and then when things do start to be more coherent, he drops his core story and another book seems to want to break out with 50 pages to go. Too bad as he does go after an important topic with broad consequences for much of the world.
Avishek Ghosh
Jan 03, 2021 rated it really liked it
While writing the review for Kleptopia, the first thought that comes to my mind is that of what another Goodreads reviewer said, that Tom Burgis, the writer of Kleptoipa, should get a million dollar (tax free) for the impossible efforts to put these convoluted threads and trails of dirty money together under a comprehensive narrative with direction for general readers.

Researched and presented with painstaking details, Kleptopia explores the entire periphery of dirty money ecosystem while focusi
Michael Southall
Nov 06, 2020 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kam eghdami
Dec 12, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Poorly written, disjointed and impossible to follow random thoughts and characters. Furthermore, It would have immensely helpful if the author had attended a refresher course on grammar.
The book is purportedly about kleptocracy and abuse of power, yet one is subjected to chapters about Roza who is leading the strike in kazakhstan and unsurprisingly, is beaten up by the security thugs. There is no rhyme or reason to sudden and frequent swerves into information blind alleys. After a while, I was
Nov 15, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
An important topic, handled in an intolerable style. Nonfiction books sometimes meander with unnecessary narrative elements, but this dives in to become a pseudo-novel. Regardless of the author's claims that it's all accurate, it wanders through personal stories instead of presenting ideas cohesively. ...more
Sep 19, 2020 rated it it was ok
A world tour of key episodes in contemporary grand corruption, written in a chatty tone of constant outrage and little analysis either of the historical roots and structural drivers, or the changing scale and scope, of said corruption.
Brian Busemeyer
Feb 20, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Kleptocracies are governments ruled by leaders who subvert their own laws to appropriate their nations wealth. Building power with money and money with power, they steadily accumulate both, to the detriment of the populations they pledge to be serving. Kleptopia examines how Kleptocracies form, peddle influence, hide their money, and extend their influence in the contemporary world. The story Burgis weaves begins in the 90s with the fall of the Soviet Union, examining how former soviet autocrats ...more
Dec 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
If there's one thing that happens when power is sufficiently privatised, it's that the world drifts further and further away from the founding ideals of liberal democracy. Things no longer happen because people (or their rulers) believe in justice or freedom or, really, anything. Instead, what matters is your ability to suss out the interests and stakes of a thousand different parties, and whether you have the power to shift these in your favour. Today's friend is tomorrow's foe.

In this nonficti
Charlotta Liukas
Such an all-important topic - global kleptocracy, money laundering, fraud and the Western banking system that enables them - but a tough book to read. The reporting jumps from person to person and across geographies and is difficult to keep track of. The focus is on Kazakhstan, the City of London, the Congo & Zimbabwe and former president Trump’s financial entanglements throughout the 2000s and in office.
Dec 31, 2020 rated it liked it
This is a must-read for anyone interested in money laundering, corruption, Russia, or Kazakhstan. Lots of new information on these topics.

3 stars because it's a bit dry in portions and it wasn't always clear who the author was referring to.
Jan 01, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: in-english
Stylistically not great, but nonetheless a very important book in that it shows how the world works nowadays.Everyone needs to read it.
Rajiv Chopra
Every man lives his real, most interesting life under cover of secrecy
Anton Chekhov, The Lady with The Dog

An alternative way of depicting this book is that ruthless thieves rule us. I am confident I am correct in stating that kleptocratic states are becoming increasingly common.
I gained two extra terms. The first is ‘kleptocracy’. In a kleptocratic state, the ruler uses political authority to peddle the country’s resources for personal profit.
The second, is ‘kakistocracy’. I learned this word
Ethan Wells
Nov 12, 2020 rated it it was ok
The first man who, having fenced in a piece of land, said "This is mine," and found people naïve enough to believe him, that man was the true founder of civil society. From how many crimes, wars, and murders, from how many horrors and misfortunes might not any one have saved mankind, by pulling up the stakes, or filling up the ditch, and crying to his fellows: Beware of listening to this impostor; you are undone if you once forget that the fruits of the earth belong to us all, and the earth itse ...more
Jonathon Ham
Mar 08, 2021 rated it really liked it
It’s one of those books or stories where everything you read is both startling and yet not surprising at the same time. I really do hope more people like Tom tell their story and more the public take note. I do not want a kleptomaniac future and I would be a terrible serf, as would the rest of the western world

Why government and public offical seem to have a new age insatiable greed for money and influence could drill down to a number of things. Perhaps it’s always been there, but now the stake
Lynne Thompson
Mar 10, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, thriller
This is a book about how money is laundered around the world, particularly through the country of Switzerland and the City of London (the author works for the Financial Times). Therefore, it's Eurocentric by design but New York, and Donald Trump (the Former Guy) get a shout-out towards the end of the book.

Since the breakup of the Soviet Union, there has been a consolidation of money and assets into the hands of a few party leaders (Putin), small businessmen who parlayed themselves into oligarch
Tomas H
This book provoked a single question in my mind about a quarter of the way into the book that only grew and grew to almost infuriating size by the final genius summary paragraphs of this deep dive into the subversive flows of a large share of the world’s money...

What purpose do billionaires even serve?

Seriously. What’s wrong with just being worth $100M? What single human needs a million dollars thousands of times over?

The human instinct of loss aversion is ubiquitous to all of us apes, so when
Feb 14, 2021 rated it it was ok
Burgis follows the money better than almost anyone, but it is not a particularly captivating or encouraging story to behold. Money flows around the world in dizzying complexity, aided and abetted by intermediaries every step of the way. Like a crass game of musical chairs, the world of dirty money spins and turns with surprisingly little resistance from the outside world. Burgis does a decent job here by focusing on Kazakhstan funds and their funnels through Africa, London, and the United States ...more
Neil Kaarsemaker
Feb 21, 2021 rated it really liked it
Was attracted to this book based on the subject matter. I wanted to know more about this subject and the role played by the banking and legal community that facilitates the movement of money from corrupt political figures into the global market place. The author did deliver on providing an extensive view into this murky and nasty world of greed and lies. Having not read any other books by this author cannot comment on whether this is one of his better works. He chose to provide the reader with b ...more
Paul Whitla
Apr 06, 2021 rated it it was ok
I was unable to finish this and actually didn't make it even to halfway - so take this review for what you will.

The concept of the book was interesting (why I bought it), the idea that there is a huge amount of illegal funds sloshing around the globe, hidden from governments and the taxman, and causing havoc with the international financial system.

However, the book is very much focused on Russia and the oligarchs created at the time of the dismantling of the Soviet Union. Perhaps it is my own pa
Douglass Gaking
Tom Burgis has done amazing research into the web of kleptocrats that has risen out of the fall of the Soviet Union. Most of the focus is on Russian mobster Semion Mogilevich and the Kazakh Trio of oligarchs that own Eurasian Natural Resources Company. Burgis has a thorough understanding of organized crime, financial crime, international business, and political issues. He has solid citations pointing to journalism and primary documents, and he conducted interviews and received other documents in ...more
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Tom Burgis a journalist, who has worked primarily as a correspondent for the Financial Times.

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