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Frida Spångberg

Acuminor’s Financial Crime summer book tip

The summer annual leave is approaching and with that we would like to give a weekly summer book tip on the FinCrime topic. First out is our colleague: Mara Wesseling

Title and author;

Very Bad People: The Inside Story of the Fight Against the World’s Network of Corruption

By Patrick Alley

About the book:

Thirty years ago, the investigating campaign organisation Global Witness was founded, to track and expose the links between environmental crime, human rights abuses, conflict and the world of grand corruption. ‘Very Bad People’ recounts their story. From Cambodia to Angola and from Honduras to Liberia, Global Witness has followed the money to expose how the looting of natural resources (timber, diamonds, iron ore, oil…) is intimately related to and sustains conflicts in some of the poorest countries on Earth. It uncovers who the “very bad people” are and how they take the often-obscene profits from corrupt and destructive deals. This shadow network operates at the interplay between the regulated and unregulated global economy and includes political and military elites, international corporations, lawyers, bankers and organized crime groups. The book also stresses the terrible impact of these deals on the many victims and the great risks that investigative journalists and environmental activists take in order to bring attention to them.


The high-profile global corruption cases discussed in this book are very depressing. This is even more true upon reading one of its conclusions that over the past 30 years things haven’t improved much. However, this book is still a great summer read. First, and quite important for summer literature: it reads like a thriller and has many juicy and true anecdotes. Second, it provides insight in the complexity of corrupt networks and the interwovenness of the legal and illegal worlds. Finally, it is very inspiring to read how the important and fearless investigations Global Witness has carried out came into being and how the actions of an initially small organization have led to real and important change on a global scale.