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The Greed Chronicle

The book gets repetitive after some time with more and more examples of bad deeds and gives you the feeling that everything around us is a lie.

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These days, cases of frauds, con jobs and phishing are being reported every now and then. Even the pink papers are full of news reports focusing on corporate frauds. It seems we are living in a world full of thieves and thugs. Have we turned cynical? Or is the new-age morality smirking at us?

Well, if one is unsure, Robin Banerjee’s book Who Cheats and How re-affirms that the corporate world has truly lost some of its ethos and dignity. It seems, every day, promoters and top corporate executives are devising ways to bend the rules in order to make easy money. Banerjee’s book is a robust compilation of corporate scams and frauds across the world, both in developed economies and emerging markets. The author has done extensive research and carried out in-depth analyses of public records to collate information on different types of frauds. His work shows that we have been cheated by some of the most trusted names in the industry.

Where the book scores is its ability to demonstrate how corporate frauds have evolved over the years. It touches upon the rapidly increasing frauds in the financial world (mainly banks), stock markets, the pharmaceutical industry and also briefly touches upon the relatively new and vastly damaging ripples of cyber crime. I also liked the fact that the book specifically features examples of how stakeholders who are supposed to protect the interest of the investors have colluded with promoters and taken lenders and shareholders for a ride (Chapter 7: Checkers Could Be Cheaters).

However, the author’s work stops at being just a compilation of various frauds and does not graduate to learnings from the prevalent fraudulent scenario and action points for avoidance and cleansing. I would have liked Banerjee to comment on how these frauds are affecting each of us and the actions we need to take to protect our eco-system from these frauds. The book gets repetitive after some time with more and more examples of bad deeds and gives you the feeling that everything around us is a lie.

While it is naive to believe that all is well with the world, the book also leaves the readers with an after-taste of a lost world — a very grim and hapless stand to take.

I am a firm believer in Tolkien’s philosophy that ‘there is still some good left in the world, and it is worth fighting for’. While Banerjee highlights the challenges, he does not help us be better prepared for this epic battle of sorts.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

Tarun Bhatia

The author is Managing Director, Investigations and Dispute Practice at Kroll

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