Criminals may have laundered around $1.6 trillion in 2009, one fifth of that coming from the illicit drug trade, according to a new report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).
The $1.6 trillion represents 2.7 per cent of global gross domestic product (GDP) in 2009, says the agency.
The report, entitled “Estimating illicit financial flows resulting from drug trafficking and other transnational organized crime”, also says that the “interception rate” for anti-money-laundering efforts at the global level remains low.
The illicit drugs trade, which accounts for half of all transnational organized crime proceeds and one fifth of all crime proceeds, is the most profitable sector, UNODC notes.
The report focused on the market for cocaine, probably the most lucrative illicit drug for transnational criminal groups. Traffickers’ gross profits from the cocaine trade stood at around $84 billion in 2009.
While Andean coca farmers earned about $1 billion, the bulk of the income generated was in North America ($35 billion) and in West and Central Europe ($26 billion). Close to two thirds of that total may have been laundered in 2009.
The findings suggest that most cocaine-related profits are laundered in North America and in Europe. The main destination to process cocaine money from other subregions is probably the Caribbean.