A study from the Center for the Study of Democracy, examining the links between organized crime and corruption, found that within the EU prostitution and illegal drugs markets exert most corrupt effects.
The study consisted of 156 interviews across all 27 member states. The views consulted include those of anti-corruption bodies, law-enforcement, judiciary, private sector (lawyers, auditors, and fraud-investigators), academics and journalists.
It found that the link between corruption and organized crime was weakest in Denmark, Finland and Sweden, and strongest in Bulgaria, Romania and Poland.
The study found that prostitution and illegal drugs markets exert the most corrupt effects in the EU. It also noted that some illegal markets, like the illegal cigarette trade, target primarily customs or local governments and law enforcement in border areas. In other illegal activities, such as motor vehicle theft and protection rackets, corruption is needed much less because of the nature of the criminal operations.
The study found that the prostitution market, in particular, demonstrates some of the wide-ranging ways that corruption and organized crime are linked. It notes: “The present research shows that members of police forces throughout the EU engage in corrupt exchanges
with prostitution networks, even extorting bribes or even directly running brothels.”
It notes that criminal organizations use corruption to obtain information, and develop monopolies, and that immigration authorities, including embassy or border guards, have also been targeted to ensure legal entries or stays of prostitutes. Criminal networks also use prostitutes to lure law-enforcement officers, magistrates and politicians into inappropriate behavior, later using evidence of the
behavior to blackmail the officials for protection or information.
The report found that in the public service, a wide range of individuals are targeted at almost every level. It also highlights the interest from criminal organizations in the private sector, saying: ” by targeting company employees they have great opportunities to extract significant revenues, avoid anti-money-laundering regulations, or facilitate operations of in illegal markets.”
In terms of political corruption, the study described it as ‘organized crime’s most powerful tool’, and noted it is particularly prevalent when government’s change. It found that police corruption exists in all member states and is mainly used so criminals can obtain information on investigations, operations or competitors. The study found that judiciary corruption was much less common than police or political corruption.
The study makes a number of recommendations to the European Commission. These include developing an independent corruption monitoring mechanism and an independent network of information sources. It also suggests developing data collection tools and benchmarking indicators and developing detailed guidelines to encompass a broad range of criminal offenses under the definition of corruption in national Penal Codes.