Naomi Fowler ■ New book: The Despot’s Guide to Wealth Management


There’s a new book out that looks very interesting reading from Professor Jason Sharman with the rather catchy title: The Despot’s Guide to Wealth Management: On the International Campaign against GrandKleptocracy Corruption. It has been reviewed here in The Economist. We haven’t read it yet, but this study of kleptocracy looks worth reading, and the amounts of money stolen are staggering. The estimates on Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak are as high as $70bn.

At the Tax Justice Network we’re always highlighting the need to tackle the enabler professions and those countries that wind up being the main beneficiaries, and we’re pleased to see it looks like this book will very much be pointing the finger in the right places. According to the book review, “much of the money is siphoned off through “legal corruption.”” Indeed.

And three of the favourite places where this money ends up? The United States, Britain and Switzerland. Sharman doesn’t neglect his own country of Australia though, which he describes as “able but unwilling” to tackle the inflows from China and Papua New Guinea.

As the book points out, the Egyptian government got so fed up with the lack of cooperation from the UK it sued the British Treasury after it denied fifteen requests for information to help return some of the Egyptian peoples’ money. Today little of it has been returned, and that fits the broader pattern when it comes to asset recovery under such circumstances.

Among other things, Sharman calls for tougher penalties for those firms who help this plunder. Here he is giving a lecture at Griffith University while working on the book, which is now on a shelf at a bookshop near you. (Hopefully one that pays its taxes…)

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