Financial Investigation of Crime: A tool of the integral law enforcement approach
Petrus C. van Duyne, Marcel Pheijffer, Hans G. Kuijl, Arthur Th.H. van Dijk, Gerard J.C.M. Bakker
The Hague: Koninklijke Vermande, 2001
Subject, Methods, Database:
A discussion of the methods, goals and practical implications of investigating the financial aspects of crime. The database consists of a combination of systematically collected and analyzed material and the practical experiences of some of the co-authors.
Financial investigation is defined as the collecting, controlling, complementing, processing and analyzing of financial and/or related data on behalf of law enforcement. Its objectives include generating evidence, building up a database, recovery of proceeds from crime, and weakening or disrupting crime-markets.
Financial investigation is not a weapon and not even a 'tool', but a multi-faceted approach which in essence does not differ very much from other investigative ways of thinking. It entails a string of 'if... then' statements, which reflects some basic 'knowledge of the (criminal) world'. The core of financial investigation is an analytical and systematic approach to all aspects of the criminal information which is related to the financial aspects of a given crime. As such, financial investigation can be and has to be applied to a wider range of criminal phenomena, not only crimes for profit.
In practice, investigating the financial aspects of crime means examining the nature and extent of illegal transactions from an economic as well as from a behavioral point of view. The application of analytical procedures is more than arithmetic. It involves determining the plausibility of a quantitative pattern to eventually reconstruct the 'real story' out of the smoke screen of documents.
From the title of the book one might expect a basic textbook on forensic accounting. It is certainly not. It is a treatise on where financial investigation stands (or rather: should stand) in the system of criminal investigation and also where financial management fits in the overall picture of crime. In fact, this book is as much about tactical and strategic law enforcement as it is about organized crime. We find a concise critique of the concept of organized crime, (which the authors would like to replace by the word 'crime-enterprise',) and an extensive review of the pertinent criminological literature, including Petrus van Duyne's own research on money laundering and crime markets. As a result, the discussion of financial investigation is embedded in a comprehensive analysis of organized crime.
From a conceptual point of view it is noteworthy that organized crime is not reduced to purely economic categories. Market relationships, the authors stress, encompass economic as well as social relationships. Likewise, attention is not only paid to crime-enterprises, i.e. enterprises operating in a purely illegal setting. Criminal entrepreneurs who mix criminal and legitimate business are also taken into consideration. Finally, the complexity of analysis is reflected in the differentiation of specific areas of crime (protection, drugs, fraud) and of particular schemes (e.g. the sale of high vs. low unit price goods) with regard to the consequences for the way criminal activities are conducted.
A witty, at times polemic, and in any case stimulating discussion of the potentials and limits of financial investigation as part of tactical and strategic law enforcement. For students of organized crime the rule is: Don't judge a book by its cover. "Financial Investigation of Crime" actually contains one of the conceptually most advanced analyses of organized crime currently available.
© Klaus von Lampe, all rights reserved.