This is something that as an author I didn't care much about. The origins of the money is of little importance to the story. I cared more about its significance and what it represented for Sābanto and Oliver.
When Oliver met Mark in the second chapter, he was no one, simply a stranger with a lot of money. Here are a few questions I wanted the readers to ask after reading the conversation in Mark’s office:
Is this legal?
How did he obtain money when the war was raging? Is he a war criminal?
Did he steal it? Who did he steal it from?
What is he planning to do with the money?
Through the story, we learn that the money is tainted with the blood of innocent people. The money came from the pain and suffering of others, and that is its significance. Oliver is very secretive about the origins of the money because he knows that if word got out, there would be trouble. He tells White that it is in neither of their interests to discuss it. It’s a Pandora’s Box he doesn’t want to open. In Chapter 13 the first real account of events is expressed by Eric, but because this scene is from Oliver’s point of view, we see Oliver trying to justify his actions in his mind. He even accuses Eric of having flawed memories of the events from the war.
Eventually, we get the whole story of how Oliver got his money. The kidnapping exposes Oliver and his troubled past. I made Oliver run back into the factory to transfer the money he thinks is the genuine gift that Karl gave him for the work that he had done for him.
His dealings with those running the factory and being a guard and executioner were not the only idea I had on how Oliver would take possession of the fortune. It was just one of the examples that the real world is giving us. Every time there is war or turmoil in the world, there are those that feel no shame in exploiting others and building their own wealth. There are many high money, high profile, illegal activities that can be additionally exploited during the fog of a major conflict.
Discussion Topic (Please comment below)
How would your view of Oliver change if he stole the money from someone rich rather that it was given to him for his contribution to the atrocities at the factory?
How would the book change if you knew earlier in the book that Oliver was complicit in the war crimes?