Invisible Underworld: Inhibiting Global Financial Crime

SSHRC Insight Grant

This research advances knowledge surrounding three of the most insidious forms of global financial crime---offshore tax evasion, international money laundering and terrorist financing---to improve their detection, disruption, enforcement and prosecution.  Related in some ways and distinct in others, all involve the transmission of money across borders without reporting to authorities. Conservatively, these practices are estimated to constitute 3-4% of the global economy; in Canada, offshore tax evasion alone is estimated to cost the federal government upwards of $3 billion a year. Such behaviour has not only fiscal but also performative costs for the legitimacy of democracy. To the extent that citizens believe that wealthy criminals are getting away with crimes with impunity, it demoralizes middle income taxpayers and discourages their compliance. It also helps fuel the current narrative that the system is rigged in favour of the rich and powerful---at the expense of the less well off. This project reveals the 'invisible underworld' of the global financial regime that makes it difficult to prosecute criminals engaged in global financial crime.  It has a particular focus on the way the emerging technologies enable global financial crime and how to improve their governance to rein in their use for nefarious purposes.