The financial crisis a boon for crime

Updated 1:50 PM

According to a new report from the Institute for Security and Development Policy, the financial crisis has been a help to serious organized crime in the Baltic Sea region.

In “Organized Crime and the Financial Crisis, Recent Trends in the Baltic Sea Region” the institute, which is funded by the Swedish Foreign Ministry, says that common measures, such as raising excise taxes and increasing the value added tax on alcohol and tobacco, have led to an increase in smuggling.

In Sweden, the report says, there is concern that human trafficking has also increased, as companies hire illegal temp workers from agencies run by criminals.

Estonia reports that the number of bankruptcies there increased during the crisis, as companies were bought up by criminals and emptied of their assets. In Lativa a “shadow economy” has grown where many companies use illegal and untaxed workers.

The researchers also say that Baltic crime syndicates have become more “modern”, replacing hierarchical and more prone-to-violence forms with “flatter” structures working in projects. Violence, they say, is now seen as counter-productive, since it is undesirable to attract the attention of the police unnecessarily.