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Dirty rotten scoundrels?

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A new book, The Secret World of Oil, tries to shed light on some of the industry’s darker corners. Review by Derek Brower

Screen Shot 2014-04-26 at 00.19.21OIL is the world’s most traded commodity. Getting it out of the ground, shipping it around the world and making money from the process is a dirty business, in which middlemen grease the palms of tyrants and lobbyists work behind the scenes to win political protection for the bad guys. If you want to trade oil, you need to leave your morals out of it. That, at least, is the premise of The Secret World of Oil, a new book by journalist Ken Silverstein, a fellow at the Edmond J Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University. Corruption is a ‘constant’ in the energy business, writes Silverstein. “Fixers funnel money to dictators to obtain concessions for oil companies, set up shell firms and front companies to move money, and line up firms to explore for oil,” he says. When they can’t do that, they buy influence for their miscreant masters…

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