Commentary: The kleptocracies of the East

“In East Europe, criminals on all levels, from the organized to the petty, often substituted for the dysfunctional, or ideologically hidebound organs of the state… “Crime is a growth industry and sustains hordes of professionals: accountants and lawyers, forgers and cross border guides, weapons experts and bankers, mechanics and hit men. Expertise, know-how and acumen, amassed over centuries of practice, are taught in the criminal universities known as penitentiaries: roads less traveled, countries more lenient, passports to be bought, sold, or forged, how-to manuals, goods and services on offer and demand. “Profit margins in crime are outlandish and lead to feverish wealth accumulation. The banking system is used both to stash the proceeds and to launder them. Tax havens, offshore financial institutions and money couriers—all form part of a global web. Thus cleansed and rendered untraceable, the money is invested in legitimate activities. In some countries—especially on the drug path, or on the trail of white slavery—crime is a major engine of economic growth.”

Posted December 21, 2002

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