TE: Best Books On Financial Crime

The Economist headline: The best books to read to understand financial crime

Our deputy business affairs editor considers a boom in financial shenanigans


Financial crime is as old as money. Hucksters were dreaming up Ponzi schemes centuries before Charles Ponzi gave his name to the ruse. Where there has been tax, there has been evasion. The looting of national coffers is as time-honoured as politics itself. But the late 20th and early 21st centuries saw an explosion in the scale, scope and level of sophistication of financial shenanigans, as globalisation fuelled the growth of offshore finance, and particularly the use of anonymous shell companies and trusts to shroud nefarious activity. This, in turn, has sparked a crackdown, albeit a fitful one, by governments—as well as leaks like the Panama Papers. However, as recent scandals from 1mdb to Wirecard attest, the battle to end financial secrecy and the dodginess it engenders is far from won. Here are five books to help you understand why.

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