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Very Bad People: The Inside Story of Our Fight Against the World’s Network of Corruption

By Patrick Alley

Patrick participated in the Bellagio residency program in 2018. During this time, he began working on Very Bad People, a deep dive into the seedy world of corruption. Patrick is one of the founders of Global Witness, one of the world’s leading investigative organizations dedicated to exposing corruption.

A few words with Patrick:

“The residency provided a constant sounding board but in particular, the evening I presented my book and first few pages to my fellow residents provoked both amazing encouragement and fabulous constructive criticism. The sheer fact that I was, in a small way, writing for an audience really made me think. Humiliation could have been total, as it was the support was fantastic.”

“It is hard to imagine a better place in terms of time, peace and beauty which together provide the space and the discipline to create. Don’t underestimate how important Bellagio could be to your work.”

A Quote from Very Bad People:

“Thai-Cambodian border, January 1995. At the hamlet of Nuan Sung, we turned right off the main road onto a red dirt track, heading west through the scrub towards the border that lay just on the other side of the hills ahead. This is the kind of territory that scares me most. Remote and silent. No habitation of any kind. No people. Just the road, scattered trees and undergrowth. We wanted to probe as close the the border as we could get, and borders can be dangerous places. You never know what you’ll find: you may meet border guards who think you’re a spy, or stumble on a smuggling route, or maybe mistakenly cross the unmarked border into Khmer Rouge territory – and then it’s curtains for sure. Over all this hung the fact that the Thai timber Mafia and their allies in the army held sway over the whole border area. If something happened to us here, no one would talk. We would simply disappear. What on earth had brought me to do a stupid thing like this?”


The gripping and untold story of how Global Witness has uncovered a worldwide network of highly organized criminality, kleptocracy and corruption and exposed the people behind it.

Arms trafficking, offshore accounts and luxury property deals. Super-yachts, private jets and super-car collections. Blood diamonds, suspect oil deals, deforestation and murder. This is the world of Global Witness.

What began as three friends wanting to end the decades-long civil war in far-away Cambodia is now an award-winning organization, Global Witness, dedicated to rooting out worldwide corruption. VERY BAD PEOPLE is co-founder Patrick Alley’s revealing inside track on a breath-taking catalogue of modern super-crimes – and the ‘shadow network’ that enables them.

From their first campaign that exposed how the illegal timber trade funded the genocidal Khmer Rouge, to alerting the world to blood diamonds fueling war across Africa, Global Witness unravel crooked deals of labyrinthine complexity and encounter well-known corporations whose operations are no less criminal than the Mafia. This network of lawyers, bankers and real estate agents helps park dirty money in London, New York, or in offshore accounts, safe from prying eyes.

This book is about following the money, going undercover in the world’s most dangerous places, and bringing down the people behind the crimes.

Case by case we see maverick investigators pitched against warlords, grifters and super-villains who bear every resemblance to The Night Manager’s Richard Roper. One dictator’s son spent $700 million in just four years on his luxury lifestyle.

Patrick Alley’s book is a brilliant, authoritative and fearless investigation into the darkest workings of our world – and an inspiration to all of us who want to fight back.

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Patrick presented some of his findings during a TEDx event in Athens last year. Watch it here.