EUROPE: Academics: an anti-crime resource

Many European academic experts in the study of commercial crime are more than happy to discuss the state of play in the sector in an informal way with outsiders, although others may be more cautious.

Unlike many of those in north America, the colleges and universities of Europe do not generally regard commercial crime as a major academic priority in the sense of there being a ceaseless flow of papers, studies and books on the subject. That is not to say, however, there are no heavyweight professors and other experts on hand to help.

Just about every university in the 27 European Union member countries has a school of law which often includes international commercial crime, organised crime, money laundering and the like. It could be said that research and instruction in Europe are less concerned with practical, functional matters than with the broad sweep of developments but certainly under this latter heading, Europe's leading lights rank among the best in the world.

The following expert academics are all prepared to offer some free advice of a general nature in the area of commercial crime to bona fide business inquirers. While this may be too broad to be of direct use to some readers - and while some academics will no doubt have their own paid-for commercial interests to pursue - contacts generally in this area should at the least provide good indications of where to go next for more specific assistance.

An acknowledged international expert in the field is Professor Doctor Mark Pieth, professor of criminal law, criminal procedure and criminology at the University of Basel in Switzerland. Pieth chairs the OECD working group on bribery in international business transactions, is a member of the Swiss federal gaming-supervision commission, a member of the World Economic Forum Partnering Against Corruption Initiative and president of the Basel Institute on Governance.

A former member of the board of the Financial Action Task Force on money laundering, he has been consulted by foreign governments, international organisations and multi-national corporations on issues ranging from money laundering and corruption to organised crime and human rights. The list of Pieth's publications almost runs to book length.

One of the UK's best-known academics on money laundering is the frequently quoted Professor Michael Levi of Cardiff University where he has been professor of criminology since 1991. Levi has been conducting international research on the control of white-collar and organised crime, corruption and money laundering since 1972 and is a prolific writer on the subjects.

He was awarded a DSc (Econ) from Cardiff earlier this year and in 2007 was elected an Academician of the Academy of Social Sciences. Levi was recently awarded a three-year professorial fellowship by the UK Economic and Social Research Council to develop research on transnational economic and organised crime and responses to it.

His extensive writings on fraud, organised crime and terrorism, money laundering and white collar crime include a study on UK directors' responsibilities to review the impact of crime on business.

Another prolific UK writer is Professor Paul Barnes of Nottingham Business School at Nottingham Trent University. Barnes now runs the consultancy IFPRC (International Fraud Prevention Research Centre) in the areas of financial crime, fraud, white-collar crime, stock market abuse, insider dealing, insider trading, auditor independence.

He is an academic member of the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners and is author of their UK edition of the Fraud Examiners Manual. He is also a member of the UK Fraud Advisory Panel and the National White Collar Crime Center in the US.

An accredited expert witness, he has participated in a number of high-profile criminal trials involving market abuse and insider dealing. Barnes' contact details are available online at

In Northern Ireland, Professor Dermot Walsh is chair in law at the University of Limerick and director of the Centre for Criminal Justice there. He teaches criminal justice and procedure, human rights, the European legal system, European criminal law and procedure and is involved in research into policing and criminal justice, criminal procedure, and European criminal law.

A barrister with a string of publications to his name, Walsh is a frequent commentator on policing, criminal justice and EU law.

Dr Tom Obokata at Queen's University of Belfast is assistant director of the Human Rights Centre and has researched extensively on trafficking of human beings and organised crime. He is a specialist advisor to the Joint Committee on Human Rights of the UK Parliament.

Obokata was previously an independent expert for a joint European Union/Council of Europe project on human rights and has published on human trafficking with a second monograph provisionally entitled Trans-national Organised Crime in International Law under way.

One of the leading European economic law and crime schools is at the University of Amsterdam where a prominent position is held by Dr Arnoud Boot, professor of corporate finance and financial markets and director of the Amsterdam Center for Law & Economics.

Boot is a member of the Bank Council of the Dutch central bank and an advisor to the Riksbank, Sweden's central bank. He advises prominently on ownership structure issues and is frequently involved in legal cases as an expert witness.

A large number of academic bodies with a proven record of expertise in this sector also exist and individual professors and lecturers may be prepared to discuss aspects of commercial crime in general with inquirers - although the terms of their employment and other factors may impose a reticence.