The Three Wise MonkeysThe Three Wise Monkeys by Jeet Gian
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A solid 3.5 starts. Thanks Saheli Chatterji and author to provide me a review copy.

The author is a CA and the book is about money laundering. Though the book is light heated in approach but it deals with a serious issue of money laundering through bogus off shore companies. The book explained the concept in such a simple and interesting way that even a layman like me understood. There is an ultimate beneficial owner (UBO) or you may also call him/ her Unknown Beneficial owner ;). Then a chain of bogus companies is set up in countries like Belize, Panama, British Virgin Island, Cyprus and Cayman island etc. Then through these countries the money is finally parked into Switzerland. Even the name of UBO can be hidden by using share register or MOA. These countries are called tax heavens and they have double taxation avoidance treaty with India. So if the money is taken through this route it is almost impossible to trace it back to the original owner.

There are three main monkeys oops protagonists Amar, Akbar and Anthony. They are born losers and pass their CA exam after billion attempts. They are idiots and even after they set up the company, they don’t get work. At the same time they are honest and honest CA doesn’t last. Then there are twin brother Raj and Suhas who are married to Ruma and Suma. They are hen pecked husbands and has a common concubine Shobha. They have secretaries Farah and Meghna. Raj and Suhas have no morals and they are ready to do anything for money and bend any rules. There is a wily banker Ashwin who has assistant named Sarah. As expected all these people paths cross and AAA falls in love with Meghna, Farah and Sarah respectively (I failed to understand why in 2016 author is compelled to pair them as per religion). Anyways the Trio is set up in the money laundering scheme of Ashwin. Then all hell breaks loose and they are arrested for no fault of their own. There are many other characters and many sub plots. Finally all is well in the end.

I like the humor of the book. The book is hilarious. There are many tongue in cheek one liners. Sample these:
1. Tax is a burden but tits are a beauty.
2. Rakesh Manjrekar could not pronounce hard consonant ‘k’; instead he would say ‘t’.
3. There is only one way to convince a woman, whether she is your wife, mother or daughter. Don’t try to persuade her. Ask for her forgiveness.
4. Suhas intercepted that common unappealing look that adorns the faces of all women when they are pissed at their husbands.
5. The ACP shushed them, which was also a mistake, and it was against the United Nations support for women’s right.
6. Ashwin sold his Ferrari and became a monk; now he lives in baba Ramdev’s ashram.

Not all is hunky dory though. There are so many subplots and multiplicity of characters. This confused me and it became difficult to keep track of all of them like Shetty brothers track. Also many characters were introduced very late in the story and that became cumbersome. The climax is prolonged and three monkeys track albeit hilarious but it was exasperating. It read like a Bollywood script in the end. The author had such a wide canvas and in the end it was a desperate attempt to bring together in the climax. Generally in every novel there is one epilogue but here we have 5 epilogues which runs into almost 7 pages. In epilogue also there is story progressing which was too much for my taste. Maybe it would have been better that author would have written a part two instead of wrapping up everything in a jiffy.

All in all a very good book. If we ignore the deficiencies pointed out in above para the book is very hilarious and educational about money laundering in particular and corruption in general. I had a blast reading it and I recommend you also read it at the earliest. I am planning to read the three U-turns of my life soon.

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