This raises questions about organized crime's influence on everything from the financial world to politics and law enforcement. The Obama White House steadfastly opposes even discussing the prospect of legalization or decriminalization of any currently illegal drugs. How much of that is due to pressure from a banking industry with enormous influence over this administration?
Antonio Maria Costa, head of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, said he has seen evidence that the proceeds of organised crime were "the only liquid investment capital" available to some banks on the brink of collapse last year. He said that a majority of the $352bn (£216bn) of drugs profits was absorbed into the economic system as a result.
This will raise questions about crime's influence on the economic system at times of crisis. It will also prompt further examination of the banking sector as world leaders, including Barack Obama and Gordon Brown, call for new International Monetary Fund regulations. Speaking from his office in Vienna, Costa said evidence that illegal money was being absorbed into the financial system was first drawn to his attention by intelligence agencies and prosecutors around 18 months ago. "In many instances, the money from drugs was the only liquid investment capital. In the second half of 2008, liquidity was the banking system's main problem and hence liquid capital became an important factor," he said.
Holders of large quantities of liquid assets can make out like...ahem... bandits during a collapse. Russia following the collapse of the Soviet Union and the huge sell off of state assets is a good example. Has something similar occurred right before our eyes in the west?