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Tom Burgis: ‘The rise of kleptocrats fueled by destablising the truth on social media

By Patrick Smith
Posted on Tuesday, 15 September 2020 15:00

In our first episode in this new season of Talking Africa, we delve right into a discussion about humanity's obsession with greed and if there's hope for a better future.

How can African nations stop the looting of their natural wealth by rogue politicians and an international band of financial predators? How do you join the dots between illegal gold-mining in the Democratic Republic of Congo, smuggling trips to Dubai and a financial laundromat based in the City of London? Most of all what does it take to track down these shadowy operations and bring the culprits to justice?

To help our quest, we have an in-depth conversation with Tom Burgis, author of the non-fiction thriller Kleptopia: How dirty money is conquering the world. It traces the evolution of an international but virtual republic based on stolen money.

Burgis, an investigations correspondent for the Financial Times who started his career as a reporter in South Africa and Nigeria, begins our discussion with a murder mystery involving the sudden deaths of two South African mining executives in a motel in Springsville, Missouri, USA.

Much of Kleptopia is told through the eyes of Nigel Wilkins, a whistleblower whose was fired from Britain’s Financial Conduct Authority after he showed his bosses evidence of serial criminality in the City of London

With the rigour of an eye-witness reporter and the descriptive talent of a novelist, Burgis explains how rogue politicians and their international business friends are preying on Africa’s mineral riches. Invariably, the stolen money ends up being laundered in Western financial systems. And yes, President Donald Trump and his gangster business friends feature at the New York end of the trail.

READ MORE Finance: Cash, oil and blood

Burgis ends his tour of Kleptopia with a stark message: “If there is an antidote to kleptocracy, it is honesty, the sort of indomitable resistance to lies and obfuscation…it is a struggle without end: the struggle for who gets to tell the stories by which we live.”

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