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Global Shell Games: Experiments in Transnational Relations, Crime, and Terrorism, Michael G. Findley, Daniel L. Nielson and J.C. Sharman

Reviewed by H. Richard Friman

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Scholars and policymakers often describe the illicit global economy and efforts to control it as the search for needles in haystacks or drops in an ocean, with successes bedeviled by balloon and Whac-A-Mole effects. The authors of Global Shell Games introduce and unpack a new metaphor and, through an innovative global field experiment, demonstrate the importance of nonstate actors in implementing—and, more importantly, failing to implement—the compliance obligations agreed to by states.

The book focuses on the “corporate service providers” that “establish, sell and maintain” shell companies (p. 38). Regulatory efforts at transparency lie at the heart of international efforts against money laundering, terrorist financ­ing, and corruption. However, focusing on the state as the “locus of compli­ance” with “international financial transparency standards” misses the central role of service providers (pp. 2–3). The authors reach out to service providers to assess the “availability of anonymous shell corporations globally” and, in turn, the extent to which state parties to international control efforts have been able to effectively “encourage compliance” with international standards (pp. xiii, 7). Despite such standards, the book reveals that there is no shortage

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