Organised crime in Pacific involves political elites: Report

A recently published discussion paper by the Australian National University (ANU) argues that the most significant organised crime in the Pacific involves the connection between political elites and illicit actors.

The discussion paper featured in the Development Policy Blog states that the social and economic disruption caused by this relationship is more serious than other types of organised crime.

“This means organised crime in the Pacific is less about tatts, drugs and gangs, and more about networks of politicians, business elites and assorted intermediaries,” states the report.

Authors, Sinclair Dinnen and Grant Walton from the ANU argue that the most visible of this connection is in the logging sector in PNG and the Solomon Islands.

They claim both countries have a long history of illegal logging facilitated by an alliance between Asian logging companies and local political actors.

“This collusion has resulted in “the blurring of legal and illegal trade in relation to formal export-oriented log production.”

“Estimated net exports of illegal timber from both countries in 2010 were US$800 million; transfer pricing in the sector has been said to cost PNG alone US$100 million per year,” the authors said.

The paper states that law enforcement is weak due to systematic issues of governance and institutional capabilities and is vulnerable to organized crime as well as immunity to corrupt local actors.

It further says few of these agencies are equipped to deal with the complex and increasingly transnational character of organised crime.

“Despite some success, cooperation against organised criminal activities, particularly those with political dimensions, has largely failed to live up to the lofty sentiments of various regional agreements.”

The authors say policy makers will need to unravel the elite transnational networks which have been enabled and strengthened by economic globalisation.

This means focusing on transnational businesses elites, politicians, government officials and intermediaries.

The report can be downloaded from the following link: .

Cedric Patjole