The 10 Best Financial Crime Books

Last updated: 3 April 2021. Welcome to the best ranking of financial crime books on the web. We've included a mixture of UK and international crime books to fulfil your curiosity!

This guide to the best financial crime books

Below you'll find my ranking of the 5 best financial crime books, I've also curated other collections of other relevant titles such as money laundering, accounting fraud and other crime which might help your book search. 

All books featured are beginner friendly and don't assume much prior knowledge. With prices ranging from £8 - £60, stocking up on a few of the best financial crime books could deliver the same value as an expensive seminar for only a fraction of the cost. They can even be read for free with Amazon's Kindle Unlimited free trial.

Click on any title below to see the latest price from Amazon, you'll be shocked at how affordable the most popular titles are. As an Amazon Associate, I earn a small commission from qualifying purchases which helps to support this site. This does not impact how I compile the list. Happy reading!

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Books about financial crime - accounting frauds

Salacious tales and shocking exposés of some of the largest financial crimes of this century


Smartest guys in the room
Called to account
Modern Asset Allocation for wealth management book
Billion dollar whale

Tales of financial crime for the curious

Fascinating insights into the underworld of moving the money of organised crime

Art of Money Laundering
The Spider Network
Treasure Islands
The Laundromat
The cleaner
White collar and financial crimes
The con men
The secret barrister

Money laundering & financial crime for beginners & students

Your introduction to the issue of fraud, money laundering and terrorist financing

Global Financial Crime
Mastering Anti-Money Laundering
Anti Money Laundering in a Nutshell
The Laundrymen

Financial crime - lighter reads

Shorter guides to fraud & money laundering which contain less technical detail than textbooks

Kleptopia
Risk Based Approach
Compliance in multinational organisations
The Panama Papers

The best financial crime textbooks

Learn about the web of financial crime from academic authors and lawyers

Law of financial crime
Money laundering and illicit flows
Ownership, financial accountability and the law
Financial war on terrorism

The best external auditing books

Comprehensive guides on how to perform an external audit.

Principles of external audit - Brenda

Best seller

Auditing for dummies
Auditing
Principles of auditing

The best internal auditing books

Learn the basic principles an internal auditor would use to detect fraud.

Internal auditing in plain english
Internal control audit and compliance
The essential guide to internal auditing
How to lead the internal audit function

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The best fraud books

My Top 5 Financial Crime Books for 2021

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Financial Expert Rating:


Synopsis:

"Until the spring of 2001, Enron epitomized the triumph of the New Economy. Feared by rivals, worshipped by investors, Enron seemingly could do no wrong. Its profits rose every year; its stock price surged ever upward; its leaders were hailed as visionaries.

Then a young Fortune writer, Bethany McLean, wrote an article posing a simple question - how, exactly, does Enron make its money?

Within a year Enron was facing humiliation and bankruptcy, the largest in US history, which caused Americans to lose faith in a system that rewarded top insiders with millions of dollars, while small investors lost everything. It was revealed that Enron was a company whose business was an illusion, an illusion that Wall Street was willing to accept even though they knew what the real truth was. This book tells the extraordinary story of Enron's fall."

Who this book is for:

The Smartest Guys in the Room is an essential read for anyone currently working or aspiring to work in the accounting and finance professions.

2001 may now feel like a long time ago, and the name 'Enron' may no longer be a household name, but the lessons to be learned from this significant deception are extremely relevant today. 

If not for the continuous work of internal & external auditors, corporate finance professionals and financial analysts, the Enron story could have already repeated itself by now. 



Financial Expert Rating:


Synopsis:

"In Anti–Money Laundering in a Nutshell: Awareness and Compliance for Financial Personnel and Business Managers, Kevin Sullivan draws on a distinguished career as an AML agent and consultant to teach personnel in financial institutions what money laundering is, who does it, how they do it, how to prevent it, how to detect it, and how to report it in compliance with federal law.

He traces the dynamic interplay among employees, regulatory examiners, compliance officers, fraud and forensic accountants and technologists, criminal investigators, and prosecutors in following up on reports, catching launderers, and protecting the integrity and reputations of financial institutions and businesses. In particular, corporate investigators will gain rich insights winnowed from the author's experiences as a New York State and federal investigator."

Who this book is for:

A comprehensive guide for those who are serious about immersing themselves in money laundering.

Anti-Money Laundering in a Nutshell by Kevin Sullivan is my favourite AML title available today.

Currently rated at 4.7/5.0 on Amazon with 50 reviews, it's one of the best-reviewed books in the genre.

Anti–Money Laundering, in a Nutshell, is a concise, accessible, and practical guide to compliance with anti-money laundering law for financial professionals, corporate investigators, business managers, and all personnel of financial institutions who are required, under penalty of hefty fines, to get anti-money laundering training.



3. The Wizard of Lies - Diana B Henriques



Financial Expert Rating:


Synopsis:

"Who is Bernie Madoff, and how did he pull off the biggest Ponzi scheme in history?

This question has long fascinated people, about the New York financier who swindled his friends, relatives, and other investors out of $65 billion. And in The Wizard of Lies, Diana B. Henriques of The New York Times has written the definitive and bestselling account of the man and his scheme, drawing on unprecedented access and more than one hundred interviews, including Madoff's first interviews for publication following his arrest. Henriques provides vivid details from the lawsuits and government investigations that explode the myths that have come to surround the story, and in a revised and expanded epilogue, she unravels the latest legal developments."

Who this book is for:

This title is a true-life financial thriller suitable for anyone with an interest in the financial markets or fraud.

The Wizard of Lies contrasts Madoff's remarkable rise on Wall Street with dramatic scenes from his accelerating slide toward self-destruction. It is also 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 the clear lessons this timeless scandal offers to Washington, Wall Street, and Main Street



4. The Panama Papers - Frederik Obermaier et al.



Financial Expert Rating:


Synopsis:

"11.5 million documents sent through encrypted channels. The secret records of 214,000 offshore companies. The largest data leak in history.

In early 2015, an anonymous whistle-blower led investigative journalists Bastian Obermayer and Frederik Obermaier into the shadow economy where the super-rich hide billions of dollars in complex financial networks. Thus began the ground-breaking investigation that saw an international team of 400 journalists work in secret for a year to uncover cases involving heads of state, politicians, businessmen, big banks, the mafia, diamond miners, art dealers and celebrities. A real-life thriller, The Panama Papers is the gripping account of how the story of the century was exposed to the world."

Who this book is for:

From the winners of the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Reporting.

The Panama Papers is one of those titles will captures the current zeitgeist. Reflecting the:

  • Increasing scrutiny over global elites
  • Scepticism over banking secrecy
  • A pivot towards tax transparency

The Panama Papers is perhaps the most revealing collection of accounts to shine a light on the misdeeds of others through this scandal.



Financial Expert Rating:


Synopsis:

"Kleptopia follows the dirty money that is flooding the global economy, emboldening dictators and poisoning democracies. From the Kremlin to Beijing, Harare to Riyadh, Paris to the Trump White House, it shows how the thieves are uniting – and the terrible human cost.

A body in a burned-out Audi. Workers riddled with bullets in the Kazakh desert. A rigged election in Zimbabwe. A British banker silenced and humiliated for trying to expose the truth about the City of London – the world’s piggy bank for blood money.

Riveting, horrifying and written like fiction, this book shows that while we are looking the other way, all that we hold most dear is being stolen."

Who this book is for:

In this real-life thriller packed with jaw-dropping revelations, award-winning investigative journalist Tom Burgis reveals a terrifying global web of corruption.

‘If you think the UK isn't corrupt, you haven't looked hard enough … This new and terrifying book follows a global current of dirty money, and the murders and kidnappings required to sustain it’ George Monbiot, The Guardian.



The many faces of financial crime


Money laundering books
"Government has coddled, accepted, and ignored white-collar crime for too long. It is time the nation woke up and realized that it's not the armed robbers or drug dealers who cause the most economic harm, it's the white-collar criminals living in the most expensive homes who have the most impressive resumes who harm us the most. They steal our pensions, bankrupt our companies, and destroy thousands of jobs, ruining countless lives."
Harry Markopolos

Financial crime is a wide ranging book genre, also known as white collar crime.

Financial crime is closely linked with the law of money laundering, as the definition of money laundering includes handling the proceeds of financial crime. 

As all financial crimes generate proceeds, it's natural that books on one topic naturally incorporate the other. 

The main types of financial crime:

  • Accounting fraud / fraudulent financial reporting
  • Investment scams
  • Banking / regulatory fraud e.g. mortgage fraud
  • Theft of money through hacking
  • Embezzlement and corruption
  • Other 'cons'

Let's explore these in more detail:

Accounting fraud

As the best accounting books will make clear, financial accounting is the single source of truth for a companies financial position. 

Business executives such as the CEO are often large shareholders in the companies they manage. This provides an incentive to overstate company results to portray a positive result to the financial markets, and inflate the value of their shareholdings.

Accounting fraud can also arise from an innocent mistake, rather than malicious intent. If an accountant discovers a large unrecorded expense, they may make a decision to continue to hide the expense for fear of negative repercussions for them personally upon revealing their mistake.

Whether an accounting fraud began through strategic or accident means, the knowing participation in accounting fraud could result in the accountants involved being stripped of their professional status, barred from the profession and exposure to civil and criminal penalties.

Investment scams

Investment scams take the form of bogus opportunities, designed to lure investors into handing over their cash to a supposedly reputable financial institution. However, the institution may only be a thin façade, providing criminals with an opportunity to obtain and flee with the cash. 

Financial Expert hosts an excellent guide to avoiding investment scams which all investors should read before investing. 

Banking / regulatory fraud

This type of fraud often involves the deception of banks, insurers and other financial institutions, as well as possibly other consumers. 

Examples include mortgage fraud, where a dodgy broker falsifies documentation provided to a bank as part of a mortgage application, to increase the likelihood of acceptable. The personal incentive to the broker is the commission they receive for each mortgage successfully completed. 

Theft through hacking

Tricks and malicious code can all be used to part a saver from their hard-earned savings. 

Examples include malicious email attachments or text messages which ask vulnerable banking clients to disclose their account details & passwords.

Such scams have been rife in the last few years, as more and more of us move our banking services online. Online banking provides quick access to our cash, not only for the consumer, but also the hackers that prey upon them!

Embezzlement and corruption

Embezzlement is the crime of plundering the resources of a company or organisation an employee has been trusted to protect. 

Smart organisations build checks and balances into their financial processes to reduce the ability for a rogue individual to steal money from the company bank account. These include dual-signature on payments, and rules about multiple individuals needing to be involved when setting up a new supplier. 

Other corrupt practices that can take place within a company include collusion with suppliers. This might involve accepting a bribe from a supplier, and in return committing the organisation to pay inflated prices for the products of the supplier going forwards.

The scope of financial crime books

The best financial crime books tend to focus on a particular area of crime, if they are intended to dive deeply into a case study of an individual or group. 

On the other hand, textbooks about financial crime take a broader view, stepping backwards to map out all forms of financial crime and where it can take place.