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We all know that offshore areas of financial secrecy exist. In this episode, we’re going to take a look at the origin story of one of them. It’s a story that will make you question the caricature you probably have in your head about why shadowy offshore economies develop. And it’s a story that involves, quite improbably, seabirds that made people rich, a failed musical about Leonardo Da Vinci….and a shack worth a billion dollars.


You may not have heard of it, but you can rest assured that terrorists, Russian mobsters, and rich oligarchs trying to set up their own banks know its name. This is a tale of greed, corruption, environmental destruction, and how – and why – the Davids of the globe can become Goliaths of illicit finance.


This episode features interviews with Jack Hitt, an award-winning journalist; Selena Shannon, a former journalist and a senior producer at Audiocraft; and Lisa Hollander, a former actress who starred in a doomed musical about Leonardo Da Vinci’s love life, funded by seagull droppings on a little island in the Pacific that you’ve probably never heard of.


To read Jack’s New York Times reporting about Nauru from 1999, click here. https://www.nytimes.com/2000/12/10/magazine/the-billion-dollar-shack.html


And for a review of the Leonardo Da Vinci musical published in 1993, go to this link:



Pre order Brian’s book – https://www.simonandschuster.com/books/Corruptible/Brian-Klaas/9781982154097 


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