Moneyland is everywhere and nowhere. It does not exist on a map, but if you’re rich enough it’s not difficult to find – and once you have been inducted into this evanescent, shape-shifting, offshore–onshore fiefdom, your wealth is extraordinarily well protected from those who might tax it or return it to its rightful owners. That is the thesis of Oliver Bullough in this investigative travelogue that starts in the loot-filled palace of former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych, one of the world’s most flagrant kleptocrats.
Bullough – a former Reuters correspondent in Moscow who acts as a guide on London’s Kleptocracy Bus Tour, pointing out the luxury properties of politicians who have enriched themselves by stealing their nations’ resources – is plainly disgusted by Yanukovych and his ilk. He describes with feeling, for example, the top-to-bottom corruption of the Ukrainian state healthcare system, which enriches doctors, bureaucrats and drug suppliers while leaving cancer patients to suffer.
The author’s righteous anger helps make Moneyland a rattling good read, even if the book does not fulfil its promise to tell us how the wrongs it diagnoses can be put right. What it does offer is a global overview of kleptocracy, packed with shocking anecdotes and appalling