Imperialism, Dirty Money Centres and the Financial Elite

Higgins, Matthew; Morino, Veronica and Iyer, Nigel (2018). Imperialism, Dirty Money Centres and the Financial Elite. In: Grady, Jo and Grocott, Chris eds. The Continuing Imperialism of Free Trade: Developments, Trends and the Role of Supranational Agents. Routledge frontiers of political economy (246). Abingdon: Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group, pp. 139–151.




This chapter outlines how imperialism and economic policy continue to work together in the interests of the financial elite through the use of dirty money centres (DMCs), at the expense of wider society. One of the key insights from John Gallagher and Ronald Robinson is that formal and informal imperialism are degrees of difference within political, strategic and commercial relationships. This provides the possibility for centre and periphery relationships to shift between formal and informal imperialism over time, depending on the strength and cohesion of the states and the tensions in the relationship. Although the focus with DMCs is frequently on their deliberate use by individuals or companies for nefarious or criminal reasons, the highly secretive network of organisations which provide the basis for DMCs creates a financial infrastructure which is difficult to detect or evade. In serving the interests of the financial elite, DMCs also help to maintain the narratives surrounding countries and peoples previously subjected to colonial power.

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