The Looting Machine: Warlords, Oligarchs, Corporations, Smugglers, and the Theft of Africa's Wealth

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The trade in oil, gas, gems, metals and rare earth minerals wreaks havoc in Africa. During the years when Brazil, India, China and the other “emerging markets” have transformed their economies, Africa's resource states remained tethered to the bottom of the industrial supply chain. While Africa accounts for about 30 per cent of the world's reserves of hydrocarbons and minerals and 14 per cent of the world's population, its share of global manufacturing stood in 2011 exactly where it stood in 2000: at 1 percent.

In his first book, The Looting Machine, Tom Burgis exposes the truth about the African development miracle: for the resource states, it's a mirage. The oil, copper, diamonds, gold and coltan deposits attract a global network of traders, bankers, corporate extractors and investors who combine with venal political cabals to loot the states' value. And the vagaries of resource-dependent economies could pitch Africa's new middle class back into destitution just as quickly as they climbed out of it. The ground beneath their feet is as precarious as a Congolese mine shaft; their prosperity could spill away like crude from a busted pipeline.

This catastrophic social disintegration is not merely a continuation of Africa's past as a colonial victim. The looting now is accelerating as never before. As global demand for Africa's resources rises, a handful of Africans are becoming legitimately rich but the vast majority, like the continent as a whole, is being fleeced. Outsiders tend to think of Africa as a great drain of philanthropy. But look more closely at the resource industry and the relationship between Africa and the rest of the world looks rather different. In 2010, fuel and mineral exports from Africa were worth 333 billion, more than seven times the value of the aid that went in the opposite direction. But who received the money? For every Frenchwoman who dies in childbirth, 100 die in Niger alone, the former French colony whose uranium fuels France's nuclear reactors. In petro-states like Angola three-quarters of government revenue comes from oil. The government is not funded by the people, and as result it is not beholden to them. A score of African countries whose economies depend on resources are rentier states; their people are largely serfs. The resource curse is not merely some unfortunate economic phenomenon, the product of an intangible force. What is happening in Africa's resource states is systematic looting. Like its victims, its beneficiaries have names.
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About the author

Tom Burgis has been tenacious and intrepid in confronting the powerful vested interests – corporate, military, financial and political – that have fed to excess off Africa's riches. He has been reporting for the Financial Times for the last eight years, writing a series of prizewinning investigative reports from Johannesburg and Lagos. He was the winner of the FT's second annual Jones-Mauthner Memorial Prize for his superb reporting and exposés of corruption, and the Jerwood Award for a nonfiction book in progress for The Looting Machine. He was shortlisted as a young journalist of the year for his Africa reports. This is his first book.
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Additional Information

Publisher
PublicAffairs
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Published on
May 3, 2016
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Pages
368
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ISBN
9781610397483
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Language
English
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Genres
Business & Economics / Industries / Natural Resource Extraction
History / Africa / General
Political Science / International Relations / Trade & Tariffs
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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In this shocking, meticulously reported work of narrative nonfiction, an award-winning investigative journalist exposes “capitalism’s monster”—global kleptocracy—and reveals how it is corrupting the world around us.

Financial Times reporter Tom Burgis has spent fifteen years reporting from five continents on conflict, corruption, globalization and organized crime. In pursuit of the networks that underpin the new global order, he has traveled to the killing fields of eastern Congo and to a Ukraine riven by Russian occupation and delved into the hidden corners of the great repositories of stolen wealth in New York and London. He has interviewed the boss of the Moscow mafia as well as hundreds of middlemen, moneymen, bagmen, frontmen and other denizens of the game of secrets that defines contemporary geopolitics. Glimpses of this shadowy world have emerged over the years. In Kleptopia, Burgis connects the dots.

This riveting narrative follows four characters—a subversive British banker, a well-connected Brooklyn gangster, a liberal Canadian lawyer, and an obscure Central Asian businessman turned billionaire—whose stories converge to expose the secrets networks that fuse political power, organized crime and grand corruption. Kleptopia makes clear the dire implications of this dirty money machine: how those who have established control over lawless lands have learned, with the energetic assistance of well-rewarded lawyers, accountants and lobbyists, to translate that power into access and influence in the remaining democracies. 


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