How Corruption Facilitates Transnational Organized Crime

"Sixteen years of clean audits at FIFA shows that corruption is mostly invisible," said Paul O'Sullivan, CFE, senior consultant at Paul O’Sullivan & Associates. "These people don't need a receipt for their crimes." Like the FIFA scandal, corruption isn't always loud and it isn't always in your face. Corruption is calculated. "Corruption is a proverbial iceberg — it's not always visible," said O'Sullivan. 

When I think of transnational organized crime, I think of the mafia, terrorism cells or human trafficking — how are these groups thriving and what is being done to stop them? They thrive because all transnational organized crimes simply begin with corruption — dishonest behavior by those in positions of power. There has to be someone to initiate the crime, someone greedy, someone who is willing to take the risk to get what they want, to initiate corruption. 

In O'Sullivan's session, ”How Corruption Facilitates Transnational Organized Crime,” he provided insight into corruption and how it facilitates Transnational Organized Crime (TOC). TOC is crime that is coordinated across national borders, involving groups or networks of individuals working in more than one country to plan and execute illegal business ventures. Corruption is a global issue, one that includes, but is not limited to: drugs, human and weapons smuggling, terrorism, and more. 

The session concentrated on terrorism related to these kinds of crimes. Terrorist cells exploit opportunities created by corruption and organized crime in order to fulfill their agendas. "When you put corruption, TOC and terrorism together, it is a hell of a mixture," said O'Sullivan. An example he used is the 2004 double plane bombing by two Russian black widows. The women bribed a policeman at Moscow's Domodedovo Airport to circumvent airport security systems and then detonated bombs on two different airplanes within 30 minutes of each other. Because of the officer’s corruption, 89 people died that day. 

For fraud examiners, ethics must prevail. "If you can tackle corruption anywhere in the world then do it," said O'Sullivan. “If you want the change, then be the change.”