This module is a resource for lecturers


Loansharking (also known as usury) is defined as lending money at an interest rate that exceeds the allowable legal limit. Profits obtained by organized criminal groups from other illegal activities such as drug trafficking and migrant smuggling (see Module 3) have been used to make even more money by lending these profits to customers at usurious rates, i.e. rates exceeding the interest rate on lending generally set by law.

In some cases, the profits from lawful businesses are used for loansharking. Small business owners, for instance, may find themselves in the situation of having few alternatives to seeking illegal sources of credit in order to continue in business. Loansharking shows how illicit profits can be used to generate even more illicit money and, thereby, sustain the growth of organized criminal groups (Marinaro, 2017; Soudijn and Zhang, 2013). Loansharking also relates to money laundering in that it provides a mean to move illicit profits away from their initial source, making them difficult to trace.

Next: Links between organized crime and corruption
Back to top