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  • Writer's pictureD.R.

Financial Crime and Compliance Book Collection

Updated: Nov 29, 2020

This is the Compliance Time book collection. If you’re asking us, one of the books below is the perfect gift for your relative or friend working in AML or compliance. Just make sure they don’t have the title already ;)

Some of the books below we discussed in the show, others are just some of the titles we find most interesting. We picked the ones we believe would are best for people with from all backgrounds and level of experience in the compliance field. Note, this most certainly is not an exhaustive list. But we are accepting new suggestions.

And before diving into the titles, if you are a fan of audiobooks and podcasts, try Audible Plus, a brand new all-you-can-listen membership that offers access to thousands of titles, including a vast array of audiobooks, podcasts and originals that span genres, lengths, and formats.

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Let's start our virtual book tour with three must-read titles. These are the books of Jeffrey Robinson who was guest in Compliance Time Podcast (Ep. 6). And while we are anticipating The New Laundrymen, it is imperative to review and read some of Jeffrey's classics - The Laundrymen, The Sink and The Merger. Jeffrey is an outstanding storyteller and we guarantee that it would be difficult to leave your book.

Most Recent Highly Acclaimed Titles

Maybe one of the best titles for 2020 is Kleptopia: How Dirty Money is Conquering the World by Tom Burgis. Since this was a Washington Post Notable Book of the Year, we are including their quote

“A must-read for anyone wanting to better understand what has already happened here in America and what lies ahead if Trump is reelected in November…. A magisterial account of the money and violence behind the world’s most powerful dictatorships.” –Washington Post

Speaking of kleptocrats, corruption and offshore, another notable mention is Moneyland: Why Thieves And Crooks Now Rule The World And How To Take It Back by Oliver Bullough.

The 2019 edition of Moneyland was 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. Most certainly that's a copy everyone should have in their library. Moneyland has a 2020 edition, too (link here).

Named a Best Book of 2018 by the Financial Times and Fortune, the Billion Dollar Whale: The Man Who Fooled Wall Street, Hollywood, and the World by Bradley Hope & Tom Wright sheds

light on the 1MDB scandal. The story of Jho Low who siphoned billions of dollars from an investment fund with the aid of Goldman Sachs and others, which ultimately led to near $3 billion dollar settlement for the investment bank, is very important for compliance professionals.

Offshore & Secrecy World

The Laundromat was a movie which Netflix produced in 2019 starring Meryl Streep and Antonio Banderas. The film is based on the Panama Papers leak and more specifically, the book Secrecy World: Inside the Panama Papers, Illicit Money Networks, and the Global Elite by Jake Bernstein. The author was a senior reporter on the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists team that broke the Panama Papers story, so the book has an interesting investigative journalism research incorporated.

Another mention on the leaked papers is the book The Panama Papers: Breaking the Story of How the Rich and Powerful Hide Their Money by Bastian Obermayer & Frederik Obermaier.

In 2015, with one message from a John Doe, the largest data leak from Mossak & Fonseca firm happened. By 2016 almost 400 journalists were working on the story in secret.

Panama Papers showed the evil hiding in the offshore secrecy places, but tax evasion and the creation of offshore is not something new.

As probably you know by now, The Sink by Jeffrey Robinson spoke about the offshore world since it was first published in 2003. But the creation of offshore goes even further back in time. You can read more about it in Treasure Islands: Tax Havens and the Men who Stole the World by Nicholas Shaxson. Although published in 2012, this book reveals the very origin of the problem.

A recommendation we received from one of our podcast guests, Dev Odedra, is for The Cleaner: The True Story of One of the World’s Most Successful Money Launderers. The book written by Bruce Aitken is non-fiction tale on money laundering.

Natural Resources & Corruption

In 2020 Wall Street Journal reporters Justin Scheck & Bradley Hope published Blood & Oil which tells

the story of Mohammed bin Salman's rise to power - the crown prince of Saudi Arabia.

Talking about the Oil Sector, you may also want to examine Crude Intentions - How Oil Corruption Contaminates the World by Alexandra Gillies. "President Trump's businesses struck deals with oligarchs and sold property to secretive shell companies; the Panama Papers leak triggered investigations in 79 countries; and, corruption scandals toppled heads of state in Brazil, South Africa, and South Korea".

Another title from Tom Burgis, although dating back to 2015, is The Looting Machine: Warlords, Oligarchs, Corporations, Smugglers, and the Theft of Africa's Wealth.

The focus here is on Africa and how corruption and crimes have impacted this resources rich continent.

A great title on kleptocracy, corruption and politics

(recommended to us via our LinkedIn page) is Putin's Kleptocracy: Who Owns Russia? by Karen Dawisha. The book presents extensive new evidence about the Putin circle’s use of public positions for personal gain even before Putin became president in 2000.


Drug trafficking - a trillion dollar industry bringing death and destruction around the world. All compliance and financial crime specialists should know more about it and understand its importance in so many other crimes - corruption, trade-based money laundering, offshore, violence, arms trafficking and more.

ZeroZeroZero is a book by Roberto Saviano demonstrates the cocaine trafficking network, violence and money laundering. The author also wrote Gomorrah: A Personal Journey into the Violent International Empire of Naples’s Organized Crime System and has lived under police protection since its publication in 2006.

Another true story we must mention is The Infiltrator: The True

Story of One Man Against the Biggest Drug Cartel in History by Robert Mazur. Robert Mazur has successfully infiltrated the Colombian Medellín Cartel. "It is a shocking chronicle of the rise and fall of one of the biggest and most intricate money-laundering operation of all time-an enterprise that cleaned and moved hundreds of millions of dollars a year".

In recent years the story of rise and fall of Medellín Cartel was also presented in the Netfix show Narcos.

A piece of the story and the personal account of Juan Pablo Escobar, however, is also present in the book Pablo Escobar: My Father. It is hard to imagine what is like to be close relative of Pablo Escobar, but this book which seeks redemption and forgiveness has a personal approach to it.

One great recommendation which received on our LinkedIn page is Narconomics: How to Run a Drug Cartel. The book is Tom Wainwright and it is "more than just an investigation of how drug cartels do business, Narconomics is also a blueprint for how to defeat them".

The Silk Road

Another great read published in 2018 is Dark Commerce: How a New Illicit Economy Is Threatening Our Future by Louise I. Shelley. You can learn more on the new means and methods of illicit trade enabled through social media, anonymity and to some extend, cryptocurrency.

American Kingpin: The Epic Hunt for the Criminal Mastermind Behind the Silk Road by Nick Bilton tells the story of building a criminal empire in the Dark Web.

Markets & Fraud

When we talk about fraud there are three iconic names - Ponzi, Madoff and Enron. Charles Ponzi lived in the 1920s but his name to this day is linked with financial scams. If you don't know his story, check out Ponzi's Scheme book by Mitchell Zuckoff. One of the largest Ponzi schemes in history, however, was not done by Ponzi himself, but Bernie Madoff. The Wizard of Lies: Bernie Madoff and the Death of Trust by Diana B. Henriques is now also an HBO film. It was said that it is "the most complete account of the heartbreaking personal disasters and landmark legal battles triggered by Madoff’s downfall―the suicides, business failures, fractured families, shuttered charities". And finally, Enron. The Smartest Guys in the Room: The Amazing Rise and Scandalous Fall of Enron is a must read in the accounting and fraud fields.

We have also two great recommendations relating to the 2008 financial crisis. Although they may not be directly money laundering related, we consider them a worthy mentions.

Too Big to Fail: The Inside Story of How Wall Street and Washington Fought to Save the Financial System--and Themselves by Andrew Ross Sorkin, a New York Times bestseller that goes behind the scenes of the financial crisis on Wall Street and in


And The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine by Michael Lewis. The book is also a motion picture.

Learn More in Compliance, Financial Crime & Fraud

Here are some of the books and titles which were also mentioned or written by our guests.

When we spoke about Pink Collar crimes with Kelly Paxton, she mentioned The Honest Truth about Dishonesty by Dan Ariely which is great resource for fraud analysts.

Alexander Dill was guest in Episode 20. He is the author of Bank Regulation, Risk Management, and Compliance: Theory, Practice, and Key Problem Areas (Practical Finance and Banking Guides). He gave us a very comprehensive preview of the book during the podcast, and we are expecting his new book on AML in 2021.

Remember Episode 2 with Maureen Mutua which was published back in May 2020.

Her new book The Untold Stories of Financial Crime: First-Hand Accounts From 30 Financial Crime Experts From 30 Countries is now published.

In Episode 8 Stephen Scott recommended also a number of great titles of books and movies. One of them is The Fifth "C": The Criminal Use of Diamonds by Kelly Ross. The author is a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police who specializes in investigating

the criminal use of diamonds and jewellery. A book which Stephen says inspired him to become money laundering investigator is Crime School: Money Laundering: True Crime Meets the World of Business and Finance by Chris Mathers.

In this book "a twenty year law enforcement veteran of financial crime explains this felony in simple terms. Written anecdotally, the book describes what money laundering is and how the crimes behind it fit together".

Another title in Stephen's top recommended books is McMafia: A Journey Through the Global Criminal Underworld. The book was written by Misha Glenny.

Misha Glenny travels across five continents to speak with

participants from every level of the global underworld--police, victims, politicians, and even the criminals themselves.

Last but not least, a recommended title is Cops in Kabul: A Newfoundland Peacekeeper in Afghanistan by William C. Malone.

The book is personal account of the author who was the deputy Canadian police commander in Kabul, Afghanistan, from May 2011 to May 2012.

This list of books most certainly is not including all great reads out there. If we missed your favorite book and you would like to see it on this page, please send us an email at cmpltime at gmail dot com.

Note, if you purchase a book by following the link from our website, Compliance Time will earn an Amazon Affiliate commission. Thank you for supporting us!

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