Butler to the World: How Britain Became the Servant of Tycoons, Tax Dodgers, Kleptocrats and Criminals by Oliver Bullough - review by Richard Cockett

Richard Cockett

Anyone for Fraud?

Butler to the World: How Britain Became the Servant of Tycoons, Tax Dodgers, Kleptocrats and Criminals

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With the gradual but remorseless roll-out of sanctions against those ‘oligarchs’ who have enriched themselves over the past decades largely through their political connections to the Kremlin, the scale of their luxury lifestyles has been definitively exposed. Megayachts have been seized, bank accounts frozen and entire football clubs effectively impounded. Roman Abramovich, probably the most famous oligarch, has spent over £800 million keeping Chelsea Football Club afloat – that is £800 million above and beyond what the club has been making from match attendances, television revenues and merchandise sales. A mega-yacht seized by the Italians called Sailing Yacht A is said to have cost £440 million. It is owned by the billionaire Andrey Melnichenko, a man with extensive interests in the agrichemical and coal industries.

Oliver Bullough’s book Butler to the World was written before the Ukraine war began, but the timing of its publication could not have been more fortuitous. It focuses on Britain’s outsize role in enabling the world’s kleptocrats and oligarchs to launder or hide their money. Bullough, an investigative journalist

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