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Londongrad: From Russia with Cash;The Inside Story of the Oligarchs Paperback – July 8, 2010

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Editorial Reviews

Review

‘A magnificently emetic account of the lifestyles of the Russki oligarchs…’ Rod Liddle, Sunday Times

‘Meticulously researched…a racy and intriguing read’ Daily Express

“an important and fascinating story… gripping” - Sam Leith, the Daily Mail

“A gripping chronicle of the decadence, danger and sheer power that defined a phenomenon… thoroughly researched… a compelling read” - Jeremy Hazlehurst, City AM

“a racy and alarming investigation” - the Economist

About the Author

Mark Hollingsworth is the author of eight previous books, including an acclaimed study of MI5. He writes regularly for The Sunday Times, The Guardian and The Financial Times. Stewart Lansley is an award-winning television and radio producer.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Fourth Estate (July 8, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007356374
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007356379
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 1.1 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #286,665 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Quantenmechaniker on April 23, 2010
Format: Paperback
The book is an easy read and fascinating. However, what is true? I cannot judge the big numbers and the Russian names. Two examples however: On page 129 writes the author about the Château de la Croix, which is called however de la Croe and which in the 80s did not belong to Onassis (he died in 1975?!) but to Niarchos and on page 157 he writes about Holcim Ltd. as Russian construction company with Swiss subsidary which is however a world leading Cement company - and a Swiss company. If the rest is equally wrong...
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Robert Horn on August 12, 2011
Format: Paperback
Lord Acton was right. The more the lolly the more the corruption. That is just one of the several inferences of this book that is not spelt out but left to the reader to connect the dots. The dots though are generally so close together that it is scarcely necessary to connect them. It is a subtle piece of writing because superficially it is racy journalism but some of the dots are pixel size so that the subliminal message comes out as clearly as if it were engraved in stone.

The authors do not present a polemic. They simply recount facts which we may assume are true because no overpaid lawyer has got an injunction to prevent their publication. The book deals with the accumulation of staggering amounts of personal wealth by a handful of ex-Soviet wheeler-dealers (Messrs Berezovsky, Khodorkovsky, Fridman, Gusinsky, Abramovich, Deripaska and Patarkatsishvili among others) soon after the collapse of the USSR and their gross behaviour in squandering it on themselves and their friends. The crudity of their lives reflects their extraordinarily low cultural level. They have the tastes of gangsters, and not just the tastes. They justify their grasping greed by saying it was OK because it was legal. Adolf Hitler and his merry entourage were 'legal'. Morality and law are not the same thing. To acquire, by whatever means, huge amounts of the property of the Russian people then to squirrel the proceeds away in foreign havens to protect it from taxation and being returned to its rightful owners is immorality on an industrial scale.

The main focus of this book is London where the oligarchs feel safe because courts seem reluctant to extradite them even though they are charged with serious crimes in their own country.
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By 2007 and prior to the impact of the Global Financial Crisis London had had displaced New York to become the financial capital of the world by providing an unrivalled tax avoidance industry, light regulations and easy visas for foreign businessmen.
This book tells the story of four Russian businessmen who became oligarchs – privileged insiders – who built huge fortunes by exploiting the flawed post-Soviet disposal of Russia’s state owned natural resources. London provides a refuge from Russian prosecutors for the oligarchs and for many of their super rich compatriots. London provides them with legal sanctuary and a fair due process of law in contrast to the corrupt, politicised judiciary in Russia.
It suits the multi-billionaire Russians and their super-rich compatriots that the UK boasts an unrivalled tax avoidance industry and an abundance of highly paid accountants and lawyers able to devise complex ways of hiding an individual’s wealth. The British government has collaborated with the City of London in offering a haven for super-rich businessmen from Russia who need to expatriate their money. New York and Stuttgart have failed to compete in pursuit of Russian capital.
But because Britain has asked few questions about the provenance of new Russian wealth, waves of hit men keep arriving on Britain’s shores to settle accounts by violent means.
Although their wealth originated in Russia, it has not been a comfortable place in which the oligarchs can spend it. There is too much scrutiny by the tax police and a constant fear of assassination by criminal elements. Bodyguards and bullet proof cars are necessities of daily life for the very rich in Moscow. But in the UK they have been mostly able to enjoy unfettered spending of their fortunes without fear or censure.
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So two out of the three richest people in UK are actually from Russia, according to the Sunday Times. Does it mean that all Russians are fabulously rich? Of course not. Then who are they, those Russians, who bought exclusive real estate in the heart of London, football clubs and yachts that cost more than the budget of a small European country?

The oligarchic emigration from Russia of 1990-2008 was so significant that journalist and author Mark Hollingsworth wrote a book with the telling title"Londongrad." The book starts like a tough detective story -- the nervous atmosphere of the over-secured office, untraceable phone calls and exploding helicopters. The only difference between pulp fiction and this book is that "Londongrad" depicts real life. All things that you can learn from "Londongrad" are true and neatly documented. Being a good journalist, Mark Hollingsworth supported his story with quotes and sources, so a reader can easily check everything that is stated in the book.

The author investigates who are those Russians who now own the most prestigious buildings in the United Kingdom and many other European countries, depicts vividly the tastes of Russian oligarchs, their endless Bentleys, castles, parties and shopping tours to Christie's. He tries to describe their personalities and figures out what drives their anxiety for luxury, opulence and splendour. But this book is absolutely not about the glamorous life of the super-riches. This is about politics, ethics and the source of richness. This is about Russia in its after-empire-collapse stage and the world that is changing dramatically. The author talks about the impact that the Russian expansion has on British and global economy, politics, safety and culture.
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