Regional criminals make huge profits

HA NOI (VNS)— A first-ever comprehensive study of transnational organised crime in East Asia and the Pacific has revealed that these regional crime syndicates generate roughly US$90 billion annually.

The annual revenues made by criminal groups, through their activities including human trafficking and migrant smuggling, illegal drugs, environmental crime, counterfeit goods and fake medicines, were released in a report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) yesterday.

The top moneymakers for criminals in East Asia and the Pacific also includes trading in illegal wood products and illegal e-waste (electrical and electronic waste), according to the report.

The Deputy Head of the Police Department for Crime Prevention at the Ministry of Public Security, Do Kim Tuyen, said that in Viet Nam, the top moneymaker was economic crime, particularly from the illicit trade of wood and wildlife products, followed by drug, counterfeit goods and human trafficking.

The report takes an unprecedented look at how criminal enterprises have developed alongside legitimate commercial businesses and have taken advantage of distribution and logistics chains. It provides estimates of the values to prompt public debate and makes recommendations on ways of addressing these issues.

A particular problem is migrant smuggling from East and South East Asia to the US and European Union and the report reserves a chapter that focuses exclusively on China and Viet Nam, due to their prominence as source countries typifying these flows.

Remarkably, the UNODC estimates that up to 36,000 Chinese migrants use smuggling services to reach the EU on an annual basis. Roughly half as many of the Vietnamese migrants are identified as Chinese when in the EU.

China is the main dumping ground for e-waste in the region, while Indonesia, Thailand and Viet Nam are secondary centres for this trade, according to the report.

At present, the largest global sources of fraudulent medicine appear to be Chinese and Indian. However, the report warns that as law enforcement and regulatory pressure has increased within China, key aspects of production may be moving elsewhere, to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Myanmar and Viet Nam.

The report “Transnational Organised Crime in East Asia and the Pacific: A Threat Assessment” suggests that it is vital to integrate national responses into international strategies in order to combat transnational organised crimes in the region more effectively.

The UNODC’s Regional Representative for South East Asia and the Pacific, Jeremy Douglas, said that these transnational criminal activities were now a global concern as illicit profits from crime in East Asia and the Pacific can destabilise societies around the globe.

“We need to organise a co-ordinated response now. It takes a network to defeat a network,” he said.

Agreement reached on country programme

HA NOI — The Deputy Minister of Planning and Investment, Cao Viet Sinh, and the UNODC Country Manager in Viet Nam, Zhuldyz Akisheva, yesterday signed an agreement for the Country Programme during the period 2012-17.

The total funding for the programme is over US$14.4 million, of which the guaranteed funding is over $2 million, with the remaining being raised from different resources.

The programme consists of five sub-programmes on transnational organised crime and illicit trafficking, corruption and money laundering, preventing terrorism, criminal justice and reducing the demand for drugs and HIV/AIDS. — VNS