Magazine article The New Yorker

Game Over

Magazine article The New Yorker

Game Over

Article excerpt

Game Over

You've been named chairman of a major-party candidate's Presidential campaign. And it turns out that you can work for free, because, through a series of dubious transactions and nimble maneuvers, you're able to keep thirty or sixty million dollars peregrinating through various overseas bank accounts. Cool!

Or maybe you're the leader of one of the hundred and ninety-five countries in the world. Never mind how you landed that gig (free election? rigged election? dynastic inheritance? super-super-high I.Q.?), it comes with a jumbo helping of entitlement. Being human, before long you start to take the perks for granted, until one day up pops this thought: I need more. Conveniently, you've discovered a back door to your country's treasury, or a slick method for friction-less bribery, and . . . moneymoneymoney! There for the taking, which is nice, but also the source of an ancillary urgency: where to hide it. Opulent homes on many continents, each with a private zoo? Patek Philippe watches for every day of the month?

To guide you through the do's and don'ts, Jim Mintz and Irwin Chen have created Kleptocrat, a new free game available in the Apple App Store. Kleptocrat operates on the premise that the Player is a bad guy trying to launder ill-gotten riches while evading the Investigator, a relentless exemplar of all the anti-corruption killjoys out there. Mintz is the founder of the Mintz Group, an international private-investigation firm ("Clarity in a complex world"), many of whose clients are law firms pursuing civil cases, and Chen is a designer and an adjunct professor in interaction design at the New School. The hide-and-seek scenarios in Kleptocrat are extrapolated from the behaviors of real kleptocrats around the world, including those laid out in Where the Bribes Are, a Mintz Group database. Rendered as a map of the world, the database depicts, to scale and in deepening shades of red, the bribe-susceptibility of industries within a given country, as well as details of successful prosecutions under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. "Our expertise boils down to following dirty money," Mintz said the other day, in a boardroom on lower Fifth Avenue. In 2015, Where the Bribes Are was nominated for an Honesty Oscar from the Accountability Lab, an international organization dedicated to curbing corruption in the developing world.

Mintz got his private investigator's license in 1980, a segue from investigative journalism. …

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