Even in one of the world’s most conspicuously wealthy cities, London’s Knightsbridge stands out. Beside the oasis of Hyde Park, the old-time glitz of Harrods mingles with supercar showrooms and eye-wateringly expensive clothes shops. In this central district of the English capital, gold watches grace the windows of several Rolex outlets, stationed only metres apart.
Looking around at all these indicators of wealth, Oliver Bullough, a journalist who writes about economic crime, turns to the subject of the UK’s dirty money problem. “Britain is a machine for receiving wealth, hiding wealth, protecting wealth, managing wealth and massaging wealth,” he says.
It’s a damning judgement, but one that Bullough, as the author of Moneyland, a bestseller on global corruption, is well-positioned to give. In his latest book, Butler to the World: How Britain Became the Servant of Tycoons, Tax Dodgers, Kleptocrats and Criminals, Bullough examines how the UK became so mired in ill-gotten gains and why Britons should take notice. For too long, the country has profited by servicing such money, despite the damage it does to the fabric of British society and to the nations the money is looted from, he argues.
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