Transnational Crime’s Asymmetrical Trends

I read the National Intelligence Council’s “Global Trends 2025” some time ago. The growing influence of transnational crime in global politics, business and trade was one of the most important takeaway.  It is already obvious that criminal syndicates have gain significant ground. In many of the weaker democracies around the world drug traffickers, smugglers and the like seem to be above the law.  Organized crime has gained more dividends from globalization than our public or private control organizations. Chief among the root causes for failures are ignorance and/or ambivalence on these issues. The excerpt from the NIC’s report below represents the clearest forward-looking statement I’ve seen so far (feel free to share your own):

A “Shadow” International System by 2025?

Further fragmenting the international system is the threat posed by growing transnational criminal networks in managing the world’s resources—especially global energy, minerals, and other strategic markets—in addition to their traditional involvement in international narcotics trafficking. Increased demand for energy worldwide provides opportunities for criminals to expand their activities through direct ties to energy suppliers and leaders of countries where suppliers are located. With energy supplies increasingly concentrated in countries with poor governance, longstanding practices of corruption, and an absence of the rule of law, the potential for penetration by organized crime is high.

I promised myself I’d keep track of this trend in particular because it presents a direct risk to global businesses.  The link between counterfeit products, smuggling, hijacking, market speculation and other business scourges may be difficult to establish; as they very in severity from one region to another. That is why I rely on trends to guide my risk analysis.  I called my internal process Trends-Periscope™. 

To illustrate my point, a few days ago the UN’s information desk issued the report “Transnational Tracking in West Africa”, which on the surface may be unrelated to the risk company’s face in other regions.  The reality is that issues like illegal oil bunkering impact the commodity price of oil creating speculation and the rest of economy follows suit.  Moreover many companies have experienced significant lost of market share when cheap (and risky, putting lives in danger) imitation of their best brands flood the market. The end result is not only lost of revenue, but also lost of reputation; replacement costs that drive up inefficiency and raise the global price for said products in order to offset the lost of revenue.

Just a day ago RFI reported that The ruling National Council for Democracy and Development (CNDD) military junta, led by Capt Moussa Dadis Camara, on July 11 announced that the army had been placed on ‘high alert’ in areas bordering Guinea-Bissau and Liberia in response to an alleged threat of attack from neighboring countries by mercenaries acting on behalf of Latin American narcotics-trafficking networks.

I suspect world leaders are deeply concern about the issue. I was not surprised to hear President Obama’s call to end corruption in Ghana, the message was meant to resonate across the region and indeed the world.  He and others are right to target corruption and cronyism, as they’re the currency and lingua franca enabling organized crime to penetrate the business and political systems and dismantle society’s countermeasures against them.

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