Professor Mike Levi's research into fraud, money-laundering and organised crime has made counter strategies more effective both in the UK and abroad, reducing the billion-pound cost to society.

Impacts

  • Professor Mike Levi's estimate in 2007 of fraud costing the UK economy a minimum of almost £13 billion was used as a baseline for annual fraud indicators by the former National Fraud Authority.
  • His reformulation of organised crime as networked crime has subsequently become conventional wisdom, and was incorporated in the Europol Serious and Organised Crime Threat Assessment from 2013 onwards.
  • Professor Levi adapted an electronic crimes harm framework for the e-Crime Unit of the Metropolitan Police which they use for their annual reporting – highlighting the impact police operations can have on reducing harm and losses from cybercrime.
  • The research on organised crime prevention and the costs of fraud informed the organised crime strategy adopted by the UK Home Office in 2010. It was used in the Home Office report Organised crime: revenues economic and social costs, and assets available for seizure, and fed into the Cabinet Office report Extending our Reach: a comprehensive approach to tackling serious organised crime.
  • Professor Levi's analysis of e-gambling and money laundering was used and cited explicitly in the German government's revision of its money laundering legislation in 2013 to include online gambling.
  • His research guided some of the development of the Serious Organised Crime Threat Assessment, which led to the Serious Organised Crime Control Strategy – co-ordinating government agencies, police and intelligence services in addressing threats to the UK.
  • Research on the proceeds of crime enforcement was used by the European Commission's Directorate-General of Migration and Home Affairs to prepare a 2012 directive on the confiscation of proceeds of crime.
  • Professor Levi was a founding member of the World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council on Organized Crime – steering the focus towards intervening against professionals that enable financial crimes, rather than solely against frontline criminals.
  • As an advisor to the Europol Serious and Organised Crime Threat Assessment and Internet Organised Crime Threat Assessment and member of the EU's Expert Advisory Group on Corruption he works to integrate research into international policy and practice.

"Levi's work has definitively shaped much of the underpinning strategy and thinking within law enforcement and the government, particularly the Home Office." (Bill Hughes, Director General of the Serious and Organised Crime Agency)

About the research

Organised crime in the UK comes at a huge cost to society, with estimates suggesting at least £20 billion in social and economic costs. Professor Mike Levi has conducted extensive research on the control of organised crime, corruption, money-laundering and financing of terrorism, and played a substantial role in international research in this field.

Professor Levi conducted one of the first large-scale analyses of the extent of financial crimes in the UK, calculating that verified frauds cost the country at least £13 billion every year. Through a combination of ethnography, interviews and statistical analysis, his research not only devised new ways of measuring fraud, illicit money flows and organised crime, but also evaluated the efficiency of anti-fraud and anti-money-laundering efforts by businesses, regulatory and criminal justice agencies, both in the UK and internationally.

His findings showed no evidence of existing money-laundering controls leading to significantly less crime, or deterring many criminals – although this absence of evidence may be a reflection of the poor metrics currently available for linking such measures to the crime and organisational impacts. Levi's research indicated that effective organised crime strategies in Europe needed to move away from using seizures and arrests as performance indicators, and instead focus more on reducing the harm caused by financial crime.

Professor Levi participated in the first empirical studies of how lawyers were utilised to enable fraud and money laundering, and how regulators and criminal courts countered this. He also led a comparative study of how some other European jurisdictions regulated lawyers' suspicions of laundering.

His research on fraud has shown that the popular focus on online threats obscures the fact that many online frauds have offline components (for example when offenders cash out their proceeds) and offline frauds have online components (for example when funds are transferred). This has influenced international strategic thinking about intervention capacities.