Global crime generates $2.1 trillion a year, says UN Office on Drugs and Crime chief Yury Fedotov

Who says crime doesn’t pay?

Criminals around the world pocket an estimated $2.1 trillion a year – or 3.6 percent of global economic output — making crime one of the world’s top 20 economies, Reuters reported today, citing a senior United Nations official.

Yury Fedotov, the head of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), said the situation might be getting worse and global action was needed to combat it, the Associated Press reported.

“No country can handle this problem alone,” Fedotov told reporters on the sidelines of an international conference on crime prevention.

Reuters said the $2.1 trillion figure had been calculated recently for the first time by UNODC and the World Bank, and was based on 2009 data.

Inside the 21st Session of the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice in Vienna, Fedotov said 2.4 million people were the victims of human trafficking and $40 billion was lost through corruption in developing countries every year.

“Corruption is a serious impediment to the rule of law and sustainable development. It can be a dominant factor driving fragile countries towards failure,” Fedotov said.

“Trafficking and smuggling increase in conditions where there is conflict, lack of security or a weak rule of law.”

Fedotov listed organized crime, illicit trafficking, violence and corruption as “major impediments” to achieving the Millennium Development Goals, targets set by the international community in 2000 to improve health and wipe out extreme poverty in developing countries by 2015.

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