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Crime One Of The World's Top 20 Economies

Crime One Of The World's Top 20 Economies

The criminal business is one of the largest in the world, and it’s growing as perpetrators adapt to a changing law enforcement framework.

April 24, 2012 4:04 by

Crime generates an estimated $2.1 trillion in global annual proceeds – that’s 3.6 percent of the world’s gross domestic product. And according to a senior United Nations official, the problem may be growing. Yury Fedotov, head of the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), describes it as a threat to security and economic development. The figure was calculated recently for the first time by the UNODC and World Bank, based on 2009 data, so no comparisons are available yet.

Speaking on the opening day of a week long meeting of the international Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice (CCPCJ) in Vienna, Fedotov suggested the situation may be worsening “but to corroborate this feeling I need more data”. He said up to $40 billion is lost through corruption in developing countries annually, and illicit income from human trafficking amounts to $32 billion every year. “According to some estimates, at any one time, 2.4 million people suffer the misery of human trafficking, a shameful crime of modern day slavery,” Fedotov said.

Organised crime, illicit trafficking, violence and corruption are “major impediments” to the Millennium Development Goals, a group of targets set by the international community in 2000 to seek to improve health and reduce poverty among the world’s poorest people by 2015. Criminal groups have shown “impressive adaptability” to law enforcement actions and to new profit opportunities, a senior U.S. official told the meeting in Vienna. “Today, most criminal organizations bear no resemblance to the hierarchical organized crime family groups of the past,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Brian Nichols said.

“Instead, they consist of loose and informal networks that often converge when it is convenient and engage in a diverse array of criminal activities,” Nichols, of the U.S. Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, added. He said terrorist groups in some cases were turning to crime to help fund their operations: “There are even instances where terrorists are evolving into criminal entrepreneurs in their own right.” (Reporting by Fredrik Dahl; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

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