Organised crime and networking
economy: models, features,
dynamics and related approaches
Statistical Financial Analysis Unit, Department of Ufﬁcio
Italiano dei Cambi (Italy’s Financial Intelligence Unit), Italy
Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to analyse more in depth the vision which is behind this
formula of “organised crime” exploring to what extent it affects the interpretation and understanding
of the phenomenon it designates, in its internal structure and relationships, its cause-effect processes,
and the answering strategies that have been developed in this regard. The differences that an
alternative vision would entail for such answering strategies are discussed.
Design/methodology/approach – The use of metaphors in the epistemic process is preliminarily
explored, since it engenders a mode of thinking and of conceiving, which set the grounds of the way in
which we understand things. The traditional notion of “organised (economic) crime” is considered
comparatively with interactions between market players in their different shapes and formulas.
Findings – The vision on how ﬁnancial crime dynamics crosses the ﬁnancial system might have to
be somewhat revisited. A different interpretation of the criminal world might give account of its
structure and functioning processes and possibly also explaining some aspect that the former formula
ﬁnds harder to clarify. Legal and illegal (or semi-legal) services markets frequently overlap, especially
in the ideal settings provided by grey economy, wherever and to whatever extent it exists.
Research limitations/implications – An alternative vision is sketched and explored, which more
extended research might further investigate and assess. According to such vision, what we often see as
the assumption of speciﬁc roles within some organisations, or as an alliance among separate criminal
entities, may appear in a market perspective just as a trade between the supply of speciﬁc illegal goods
or services that may be offered by the various players present in the market, and a payment of some
sort. The existence of the need, or opportunity, on part of the buyer or of the supplier is more decisive
an element than the organisational factor for the transaction to occur. This is particularly crucial in
the ﬁeld of white collar crime, where both the product and the traders appear to be respectable in
Practical implications – If criminal phenomena follow more a market than an organisational
model, the remedies will have to include transparency much more than control. Supervising free
markets mainly means conditioning their routes, by opposing and removing the potential for illicit
action and conditions or opportunities which may foster collusion between legal and less-than-legal
segments, and by encouraging law-abiding behaviour and information symmetry. Appropriate
incentives may also introduce higher levels of transparency in the grey economy.
Originality/value – It is possible that the market perspective may allow better understanding of the
underworld of illegal and criminal behaviour, and to deploy more effective action. In so far as the paper
analysis is reasonably grounded, this appears to be the best way to achieve full effectiveness in the
ﬁght against organised crime and its pervasive threat.
Keywords World economy, Corruption, Crimes, Metaphors
Paper type Viewpoint
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available at
This paper presented at the 25th Cambridge Symposium on Economic Crime, 4 September 2007.
The views and opinions expressed in this paper are those of the author and do not reﬂect the
position of Ufﬁcio Italiano dei Cambi.
Journal of Money Laundering Control
Vol. 11 No. 2, 2008
q Emerald Group Publishing Limited