Criminal Capital: How the Finance Industry Facilitates Crime by Stephen Platt
|Criminal Capital: How the Finance Industry Facilitates Crime by Stephen Platt|
|Category: Business and Finance|
|Reviewer: Sue Magee|
|Summary: Not the easiest of reads, but certainly an important and shocking one. Recommended.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 256||Date: January 2015|
|Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan|
|External links: Author's website|
It used to be estate agents we reviled the most, but they've now achieved relative respectability. MPs briefly took the top spot, but for many years now the list has been topped by bankers following the 2008 financial crisis, when huge taxpayer-funded financial bailouts were required to keep the world's financial system afloat. Most people will think that we've heard the worst of what has been going on, but Stephen Platt believes that excessive risk taking and mis-selling might well be just a minor part of what is still happening in the industry and that government attempts to counter the problems are misguided and unlikely to be effective.
Platt works his way through the major criminal activities where banks are facilitating the crime or failing to fulfil their legal obligations to prevent the transfer of money to either fund the crime or reward those who participated. It's not a list for the faint-hearted; drug trafficking, bribery and corruption, piracy, trafficking of human beings, smuggling of migrants, terrorism, sanctions busting and tax evasion or avoidance. Indeed - with tax evasion and avoidance many major banks have been proactive in promoting the practices and adding to their own profits in the process.
Each crime is carefully examined, particularly with regard to the financial aspects and the methods by which criminals are able to obtain and transfer funds. The detail is stunning. I found the diagrams particularly useful as the arrangements are complex and made more so by those who need to distance themselves from what is happening. Platt also demonstrates that current methods of detecting what is happening are largely unsuccessful because the financial arrangements are now a lot more sophisticated and designed to avoid the well-known traps.
I've a background in banking and financial investigation and even I was surprised by the extent to which the banks are complicit in the crimes. My initial reaction that institutions which - fifty years ago - were paternalistic to their customers and only reluctantly became more commercial were being placed in an unfair position, was gradually eroded as Platt laid out the extent of the assistance which criminals received from banks, either wittingly or unwittingly.
The book is not an easy read - even with a financial background. I would have appreciated a glossary. Platt is meticulous about giving the full title of an organisation before using an acronym, but there were so many to remember that it was easy to become confused. This might well not be a problem to industry professionals, but the messages in this book deserve to be - and should be delivered to a much wider audience.
I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.
For more on the banking crisis we can recommend The Fall of the House of Credit by Alistair Milne. You might also enjoy The Con Men: A History of Financial Fraud and the Lessons You Can Learn by Leo Gough. If you'd like some fiction we can recommend In Her Blood by Annie Hauxwell.
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You can read more book reviews or buy Criminal Capital: How the Finance Industry Facilitates Crime by Stephen Platt at Amazon.com.
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