Remove profit from crime; stop the violent criminal

World Finance speaks to Stephen Platt, author of Criminal Capital, about why he thinks a great deal of financial crime underpins violent crime

January 16, 2015

World Finance: A lot of people might say that financial crime is nothing compared to violent crime, so surely the government should put more resources in addressing this than constantly banker bashing?
Stephen Platt: A great deal of financial crime underpins or is closely related to violent crime. So whether we take drug trafficking as an example, human trafficking, piracy, all of these are examples of predicate crimes which generate vast sums of money, which are then laundered through the financial services industry and therefore would form what you would define as financial crime. But they are predicate crime types that are committed by incredibly violent individuals who are responsible for a great deal of misery throughout the world. If what we do is take more effective steps to remove profits form those crimes by focusing on the financial aspect, we will see less violent crime.

A great deal of financial crime underpins or is closely related to
violent crime

If we take the drug industry, estimates are that it generates about $400bn a year. If you combine that with other criminal activity, you get to about $2.1tn. It’s a huge amount of money, ultimately controlled through the industry by some of the world’s most violent criminals.

World Finance: So what are your thoughts on illegal activities such as prostitution and drugs being put towards GDP figures?
Stephen Platt: It’s an incredibly difficult thing to do accurately. By definition, most of this is hidden conduct. It’s very difficult, economically they have their own reasons for doing it, but whenever I hear and read about it I’m instinctively uncomfortable with guesstimates of that nature, particularly given my experience of knowing just how well hidden much of the proceeds of that kind of conduct can be within the legitimate economy.