It is estimated that US$339 million to US$413 million was claimed in ransoms between April 2005 and December 2012 as a result of acts of piracy off the Horn of Africa. The effects of twenty-first century piracy off the coast of Somalia are felt far and wide by individuals and institutions in the region and beyond. Piracy hurts those forced to endure the ordeal of hijacking and has a financial impact on economies many miles from Somalia itself.
Just as few commentators have examined the true nature of the pirates, little attention has been paid to tracking and disrupting the financial flows from piracy. The focus has been on securing the ships that pass through Somali waters and where apprehended, prosecuting and incarcerating the captured pirates. The global community has made very little effort to take collective action to track, detect, disrupt and confiscate the proceeds of piracy.
Pirate Trails tracks the financial flows resulting from piracy and aims to identify what happens once a ransom payment has been made. It follows the money through a system of filters that enable the money to be reinvested in further acts of piracy as well as in other business activities–both legitimate and criminal, such as buying into the khat trade and human trafficking–and it identifies pirate financiers as the main beneficiaries of these flows. Using financial and economic data, and garnering evidence from interviews with relevant stakeholders who are or have been involved with piracy, and with other regional actors, the study attempts to assess how the proceeds are moved, invested, and used.
This study is aimed at financial sector regulators, money value transfer companies with links to the region and other relevant public and private sector stakeholders in their efforts to protect the region's financial systems against criminal abuses. Furthermore it seeks to inform the international community–including non –governmental organizations (NGOs), donors, and other international organizations involved in efforts to resolve the piracy problem within the region.