Bruce Aitken’s Crime Memoir, Optioned for TV, Recounts Life and Times of a ‘Cleaner’ Who Moved Millions for the CIA, Government Officials, Financiers and Drug Lords During the 1970s and 80s
‘Catch Me if You Can’ meets ‘The Shawshank Redemption’
- True crime thriller spans the US, wartime Vietnam, Hong Kong and Soviet Russia
- Foreword by the late Howard Marks, aka ‘Mr. Nice’
- Book has been optioned for TV; Oscar-winning director attached
Published out of Hong Kong in collaboration with One Hour Asia Media Limited, Bruce Aitken’s Mr. Clean – Cash, Drugs and the CIA: The True Story of a Master Money Launderer is the unvarnished memoir of a man whose extraordinary life and times map over a golden age of international intrigue, handshake deals, banking secrecy and globe-trotting glamor.
“What started innocently enough,” Aitken writes, “led me to moving millions of dollars for the CIA, government officials, financiers and well-known drug lords.”
Mr. Clean has also been optioned by Hong Kong production company Moonlight Entertainment Ltd for TV series development, with Oscar-winning Producer/Director Malcolm Clarke and Producer Stuart Sender attached.
Moving money to beat strict currency controls in the 1970s and 80s could involve ingenious sleight-of-hand; often it simply meant physically smuggling cash on a plane. Over several years, our author – later called “the Meyer Lansky of money laundering” by a US prosecutor – moved tens of millions of dollars in and out of Hong Kong, and around the world, using ‘Old Faithful’, his lucky red golf bag. His operations involved a sophisticated network of off-shore bank accounts.
In Mr. Clean, Aitken is a man of many parts:
- A working-class Irish-American kid from New Jersey whose dreams of becoming a pro baseball player are shattered by injury.
- A baby-boomer college grad who fails his Army physical owing to the same injury but winds up working in wartime Vietnam anyway, for American Express.
- An overseas employee of Nicholas Deak, the CIA’s secret banker and a Jewish emigre, once described by Time magazine as the “James Bond of Money,” who ends up brutally, and inexplicably, assassinated in his Wall Street office.
- A protagonist in several major scandals, not least the Lockheed bribery scandal which disgraced both America and Japan and led to the fall of Prime Minister Kaukei Tanaka.
- A friend and business associate of Howard Marks, the cannabis smuggling kingpin whose books — including Mr. Nice — were a publishing sensation in the 1990s and who authored a foreword to Mr. Clean shortly before his death in 2016.
- A US patriot who is illegally renditioned from Thailand by the US government and made to face indictments which ultimately fall apart following a six-year ordeal.
Readers will be gripped by Aitken’s tales of close shaves and disastrous slip-ups, strong friendships and shocking betrayals. Along the way he encounters a cast of characters from buccaneers and misfits to “drug dealers, government agents and sometimes just plain old lunatics,” bears witness to corruption, kidnappings, sting operations and moments of shocking violence, and even visits Soviet Russia on some off-balance sheet business for Uncle Sam.
In the mid-80s, he starts to wind his operations down. Too late: America’s alphabet agencies already have him in their sights and are about to start making it known. What follows is a personal and judicial fiasco. Confronted with the possibility of spending the rest of his life behind bars, he has to summon every ounce of his resilience – and his faith in God – to turn his life around.
Howard Marks, aka ‘Mr. Nice’, writes in his foreword: “I first met Bruce in the early 1980s … and we immediately formed a solid rapport. He was a master of his chosen trade. Reading about his two decades of laundering vividly brought back to me all the excitement, glamor and sheer fun that an international jet-setting life of crime imparts, [as well as] the paranoia and nerve-racking horror.”
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