We Get Support From:
Become a Supporter 
 We Get Support From:
Become a Supporter 

The Big Business Of High-Seas Piracy

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

The World Bank released a report on the economics of piracy in Somalia. Host Rachel Martin reports that hijacking the ship is just one part of the elaborate enterprise: books are kept, expenses tallied and salaries paid.



In Tom Hanks' latest movie, "Captain Phillips" audiences were taken aboard a ship under attack by Somali pirates. This past week, a new report by the World Bank, the U.N., and Interpol followed the money trail behind Somali pirates and found...

STUART YIKONA: This is a business. It was investors coming together to invest.

MARTIN: That's Stuart Yikona from the World Bank, who co-authored the report.

Since 1995, more than $400 million has been paid in ransom money, almost $3 million per hijacking. A hijacking is just one part of the elaborate enterprise. When the money men take over, they negotiate a bounty for a ship's release in U.S. dollars.

YIKONA: It is very well organized. I mean they have machines that count the money as well as check to make sure these are not counterfeit U.S. dollars.

MARTIN: The financiers take their cut, while the pirates end up pocketing somewhere between $30,000 and $75,000. All of the money helps sustain an entire pirate-based economy.

YIKONA: And then you have other suppliers of goods and services - mechanics, cooks - and, of course, the money goes back into financing, say, the pirate activities. The money is going around in circles.

MARTIN: And stopping that circle, the report finds, means going after investors not just policing pirates.


MARTIN: You're listening to NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

View this story on npr.org

Sign up for ReCap

and never miss the top stories

Delivered to your inbox every Wednesday.

Check out a sample ReCap newsletter.

Most Viewed