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LawCrossing Legal Daily News Feature

Crime Pays: Crime Generates 3.6% of the World’s GDP While few citizens would support the adolescent remark on the internet, “When I grow up, I want to be a criminal: The pay and perks are good!” the figures tabled by the UNODC and the World Bank on Monday are eye-openers. Based on the data for 2009, the UNODC and the World Bank calculated for the first time, how much does crime pay across the world.


A senior U.S. official, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Brian Nichols, told the meeting at Vienna

The results found are stunning. As Yury Fedotov, head

that “Today, most criminal organizations bear no

of the UNODC puts it, “It makes the criminal business

resemblance to the hierarchical organized crime family

one of the largest economies in the world, one of the

groups of the past.” Nichols added that criminal groups

top 20 economies.”

exhibit “impressive adaptability” to accommodate law enforcement actions and find ways to exploit new

If the criminals of the world were put into a separate


country, it would be within the top 20 economies of the world based solely on their current activities. And

According to Nichols, today’s criminal organizations

if you bring out from behind the bars the multitude of

“consist of loose and informal networks that often

geniuses locked away from practicing their art, they’ll

converge when it is convenient and engage in a diverse

be sure to lead the world, as they do even now in most

array of criminal activities.”

regions of the earth. Terrorist groups often turn to crime to fund their That in many places, only criminals lead the society and

operations and “There are even instances where

corridors of power is proved by the figure of an annual

terrorists are evolving into criminal entrepreneurs in

loss of $40 billion through corruption in developing

their own right.”

countries, and an illicit income of $32 billion in human trafficking every year. This is on what is ‘reported.’ The

The figures do not take into account the immense

figures might be quite different if what is not reported

amounts fined or recovered from legal companies found

or found is taken into account.

committing offenses, nor do they take into account the billions that passed hands in mortgage fraud committed

According to Fedotov, right now on this 21st century

by large banks and companies bailed by government.

world, at any given moment, at least “2.4 million people suffer the misery of human trafficking, a shameful crime of modern day slavery.”


Crime Pays: Crime Generates 3.6% of the World’s GDP