The knee-jerk reaction upon first hearing the phrase “financial crime” is to think of a business enterprise as the victim. While that is true in many cases, it overlooks a fundamental tenet of financial crime investigation: Businesses are frequently the vehicles through which criminals operate. Throughout this chapter we will try to help you overcome any stereotype you may harbor about the difference between organized crime and big business by highlighting where crime has been, and where it is, and by predicting where it may be headed. Through it all you will notice one underlying theme: Crime is all about money. What this chapter is also about, but in a much less noticeable way, is the fact that money is often all about crime, as well.
Organized Crime and Business
When people hear the phrase “organized crime,” the words conjure up images of ruthless ethnic criminals with names like “Sammy the Bull,” “Fat Tony,” and “Jimmy the Weasel.” While it may be true that “The Sicilian Mafia, or La Cosa Nostra, is the most famous organized-crime group in the world,”1 its nearly 5,000 known members, who are divided into roughly 180 families, are neither the first, nor currently the most significant, organized criminal enterprises in the world.2
It is unclear why the collective consciousness of American minds has this distorted view of organized crime. Perhaps it stems from the impact of modern cinema. Films such as Martin Scorsese's Goodfellas and ...