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Butler to the World: The book the oligarchs don’t want you to read - how Britain became the servant of tycoons, tax dodgers, kleptocrats and criminals

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I found this an interesting read, and a real eye opener about how the UK makes its money from the cleaver use of money movement here and abroad. In the immortal words of former US Secretary of State Dean Acheson, 'Britain has lost an empire and not yet found a role. The huge buildup in the military budget went into shell companies for top generals and politicians, who all seem to have gigantic yachts in Cypress (another British colony that learned well), while draftees sent to Ukraine have to deal with food rations that expired (stale-dated) in 2015. What first drew my attention to this book was its beginning with descriptions of Britain's acquisition of the Suez Canal and post-WWII period as its Empire collapsed, which are both historical periods I have studied so it was interesting to have another in-depth look at them in this book. Alongside his 2018 book Moneyland – a quest into that Narnia of libel laws and tax havens and old-school-tie discretion that makes London so attractive to extortionists – he organised “kleptocrat tours” of the capital, his equivalent of Hollywood Hills rubber-necking, bus trips around Knightsbridge and Mayfair pointing out the mansions where the cronies of the world’s worst dictators and biggest tax dodgers hide their billions.

But it also raises a question - what else can these small countries do to build their economies when they don't really have any advantage other than a non-existent legal system? The country’s public image is as the home of Harry Potter, Queen Elizabeth II, top flight soccer, and socialized healthcare; as an exporter of whiskey, Hollywood baddies, late-night television personalities, and endless costume dramas. Of particular interest were the chapters covering the British Virgin Isles and Gibralter, respectively. Perhaps some readers had been left feeling all Russians were complicit in the crimes of their leaders.

From the murky origins of tax havens and gambling centres in the British Virgin Islands and Gibraltar to the influence of oligarchs in the British establishment, Butler to the World is the story of how we became a nation of Jeeveses – and how it doesn’t have to be this way.

Perhaps the most remarkable demonstration of the closeness of these ties was revealed by General Michael Hayden, the former director of the National Security Agency, in his 2016 memoir Playing to the Edge. Wielka Brytania - amoralny najemnik ukrywający prawdziwą naturę za fasadą urokliwej tradycji, literackich nawiązań, nieskazitelnej garderoby i wyniosłych manier.Setting up these arrangements costs money of course and this is where the butlering services come into play. This is not a comprehensive book, it does not cover every part of financial and economic crime, nor does it offer much evaluation. A great book about Britain’s involvement in the shady dealings of the Establishment with some of the world’s very worst people. They had no interest in whether Eastern European money launderers could or could not do business, but they did want investments to be even more profitable than they already were.

That provoked me into writing my second book, The Last Man in Russia, which describes the struggle of a Russian to live in freedom and the efforts of Soviet officials to stop him. The connections between Britain and America are profound—in foreign policy, in investment, in literature, in pop music, in the sharing of each other’s celebrities. Exploring the way in which Britain services oligarchs, builds tax havens and launders money, Oliver Bullough presents a startling, if sometimes overdramatic, picture of current policy on economic crime. Today, numerous firms continue to pop up in Scotland, using the same short list of addresses - private homes where the occupants set up these companies all day long. In his forceful follow-up to Moneyland, Oliver Bullough unravels the dark secret of how Britain placed itself at the center of the global offshore economy and at the service of the worst people in the world.This also had some really interesting history as to how we got her and some great focused examples illustrating his points. Bullough has a gift for making complex financial information comprehensible and strives to leaven this depressing story with jokes and deft character sketches . I tried to persuade them that imposing sanctions against Russia was a bad idea,” he told a Russian news agency. Bullough uses the example of dirt poor Moldova, where a billion dollars disappeared into shell companies in Scotland.

He kept coming at the questions from different angles, as if he thought that he just needed to find the right password to unlock the door hiding Britain’s enforcement mechanism. The chapters I found most absorbing were ‘Rock Solid’ which describes how Gibraltar became rich by establishing itself as the online gambling centre of the world and ‘Down the Tubes’ in which the author explains how a Ukranian tycoon with possible links to the world’s most notorious mobster managed to manoeuvre his way into the heart of the British establishment, including being sold one of London Underground’s ‘ghost stations’ by the Ministry of Defence. For more than 60 years our financial system has been corroded by greed - and has in turn corrupted our politics.Operatives were out scouring the country, looking for an Al-Qaeda cell, and their managers were in the office at all hours, despite the holiday season. Great Britain has lost an empire and not yet found a role," said Dean Acherson, a former US secretary of state. You can find it as much in Dubai, Sydney, Lichtenstein, and Curaçao as you can in Switzerland or New York.

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