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9 books that will change the way you think about financial crime

We’ve gathered financial crime book recommendations and must-reads from our colleagues at Napier and our friends across the industry.

Napier AI
April 6, 2022

Financial crime is a constantly evolving landscape, and an industry where you never really stop learning. Whether you’ve just entered the industry, or are looking to update your knowledge, it’s important to keep an ear to the ground.

With that being said, here are some of our book recommendations for your reading list! Some come from Napier colleagues, and some come from our friends across the fincrime and compliance industry.

1. The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine - Michael Lewis

Rating: 4.6/5 stars on Amazon

Now an Oscar and BAFTA-winning motion picture and the second in a two-part fiction book series about Wall Street greed, Lewis’ #1 New York Times bestseller tells a story about the build up of the US housing bubble and those who bet against it – and won in a big way.

“It is the work of our greatest financial journalist, at the top of his game. And it’s essential reading.”—Graydon Carter, Vanity Fair

"’The Big Short’ is a series of character studies — the characters being the handful of names (Meredith) Whitney listed in her reply to Lewis’ query. ‘The Big Short’ weaves together the tales of exactly how, when, where and why these folks called Wall Street out — more or less loudly, but always very profitably — on the setup for a big-time fail that was the then-flourishing subprime mortgage business. – Tara-Nicholle Nelson for Business Insider

2. The Wizard of Lies: Bernie Madoff and the Death of Trust – Diana B. Henriques

Rating: 4.5/5 stars on Amazon

The Wizard of Lies is a true story and account of Bernie Madoff, an American fraudster whose claim to fame was running the biggest Ponzi scheme in history. The author, Diana Henriques,  was the first reporter to obtain jailhouse interviews with Madoff.

"In The Wizard of Lies, Diana Henriques, who covered the Madoff scandal for the New York Times, offers a riveting history of Mr Madoff's shady dealings and the shattering consequences of his theft. . . . She offers a raw and surprisingly moving portrait about the toll that Mr Madoff's deceit took on his family." - The Economist

"Henriques offers an impressive, meticulously reported postmortem not only of the Ponzi scheme but also of Madoff's entire career. . . . The Wizard of Lies is the definitive book on what Madoff did and how he did it." - Bloomberg Businessweek

3. Kleptopia: How Dirty Money is Conquering the World - Tom Burgis

Rating: 4.4/5 stars on Amazon

A Washington Post Notable Book of the Year • An Economist Book of the Year

Journalist Tom Burgis writes about the impact of globalization and corruption, creating a narrative around the various mechanisms through which dirty money flows and who, globally, plays a part in facilitating it.

'Combines forensic investigative journalism with the narrative propulsion of a literary thriller. The result is a masterful, gripping read that is all the more disturbing because it's true' - Nathan Filer, bestselling author of The Shock of the Fall

“It provides a magisterial account of the money and violence behind the world’s most powerful dictatorships.” – Washington Post

4. Billion Dollar Whale: The Man Who Fooled Wall Street, Hollywood, and the World - Tom Wright

Rating: 4.5/5 stars on Amazon

Named a Best Book of 2018 by the Financial Times and Fortune, Wright tells the story of Jho Low, a social climber from Malaysia who pulled off one of history’s biggest fraud schemes and ultimately became an international fugitive.

‘An extraordinary tale … richly woven … with dogged reporting … Like all good business stories, Billion Dollar Whale is bigger than the immediate one it tells. It is a story of emerging markets crippled by corruption and cronyism and comes from the era of egregious — and mostly punishment-free — banking … One thing is clear. If ever Hollywood gets round to telling the story on screen, here is perfect material for the script.’ - Financial Times

"This story of a Wharton graduate who carried out the $5 billion swindle known as 1MDB offers a textbook case of financial fraud in the modern age." - New York Times

5. Moneyland: Why Thieves And Crooks Now Rule The World And How To Take It Back – Oliver Bullough

Rating: 4.6/5 stars on Amazon

A Sunday Times bestseller, shortlisted for the Orwell prize 2019, Sunday Times’ business book of the year, an Economist politics and current affairs book of the year, and a Daily Mail and Times book of the year. Bullough guides readers through the elaborate landscape beneath the our world’s surface, where criminals and kleptocrats flock to benefit from the services of white-collar enablers in rich countries to launder and invest their money.

“If you want to know why international crooks and their eminently respectable financial advisors walk tall and only the little people pay taxes, this is the ideal book for you. Every politician and moneyman on the planet should read it, but they won't because it's actually about them.” - John le Carré, author of A Legacy of Spies

“Oliver Bullough follows the trail of the filthy rich in this compelling, though not hopeful, study of global wealth and corruption” – The Guardian

We also reviewed this book on the Napier blog, which you can read here.

6. Gomorrah: Italy’s Other Mafia – Roberto Savanio

Rating: 4.4/5 stars on Amazon

This book tells the story of the Camorra, an organised crime group also known as ‘the System’ whose global interests range from construction and waste disposal, to high fashion and illegal drugs. Saviano even went undercover, even working as wait staff at a Camorra wedding, and has been given police protection since the publishing of this shocking exposé.

“A perfectly realized, morally compelling journey through the brutal world of contemporary Italian mob life . . . A stunning achievement, this is a must-read for anyone interested in the state of contemporary Europe." - Publishers Weekly

“This one is epic: it’s a manual ‘how to run a mafia’” - Jacob Gloser, Napier Technical Product Owner

7. The Panama Papers: Breaking the Story of How the Rich and Powerful Hide Their Money - Bastian Obermayer & Frederik Obermaier

Rating: 4.5/5 stars on Amazon

Investigative Journalists Obermayer and Obermaier tell the story of history’s biggest data leak, the Panama Papers, from 2015 when an anonymous whistle-blower alerted the authors and began the now-famous investigation into the shadow economy of the super-rich by over 400 journalists.

“This is the inside story of how governments, corporations and organised crime groups have used the secret world of offshore jurisdictions to engage in systematic cheating and thieving. It's an almost perfect tale for the 21st century - the failure of democracy, the triumph of commercial power and greed, greed, greed.” - Nick Davies, special correspondent, The Guardian

"With precision and purpose, THE PANAMA PAPERS is what 'Follow the Money' means." —Bob Woodward, The Washington Post

8. Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt - Michael Lewis

Rating: 4.6/5 stars on Amazon

Lewis tells the epic story of whistleblowers vs multimillionaires – a classic David and Goliath tale about modern-day Wall Street and the select few who actually know what’s happening in the highly-digitalised world of trading we and so-called financial experts now entrust our money into but don’t understand.

“Dazzling... guaranteed to make blood boil... riveting” - Janet Maslin for The New York Times

“As with most Michael Lewis’ books, Flash Boys astounds and provokes the reader with the realization that ‘this sh*t actually happened!’ If you think that Wall Street has turned the financial markets into a casino, with the game rigged in favour of the insiders, Flash Boys provides you with ample proof.” – Financial Pipeline

9. American Kleptocracy: How the U.S. Created the World's Greatest Money Laundering Scheme in History - Casey Michel

Rating: 4.6/5 stars on Amazon

Michel investigates and reports on how the United States itself has become home to one of the largest offshore financial systems in the world, despite being the self-proclaimed leader of the free world and claiming the associated moral high ground. American Kleptocracy highlights how US states like Delaware and Nevada have come to rival traditional secrecy havens like the Caribbean islands, Switzerland, and Panama in opening their arms to shell companies, illicit financial flows and post-Soviet oligarchy.

"An indefatigable young American journalist who has virtually cornered the international kleptocracy beat on the US end of the black aquifer." - The Los Angeles Review of Books

“A remarkable debut by one of America's premier young reporters on financial corruption, American Kleptocracy offers the first explosive investigation into how the United States of America built one of the largest illicit offshore banking systems the world has ever known.” - Macmillan

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