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Interchange Solutions Founder, John Burbidge-King chaired a seminar on the criminal risks of international business, organised by The Worshipful Company of World Traders and Birkbeck College, London.

The speakers were Dr Alexander Trautrims from Nottingham University and a senior officer from the National Crime Agency (NCA). The discussion panel included a Birkbeck graduate student and an industry representative.

The seminar set out some of the examined the criminal dimensions in international business and the need for commercial organisations of all sizes and sectors to be more aware of the darker side, and risks, of doing business ,whether in the UK or abroad. The seminar centred on the lucrative opportunities for organised crime groups to enrich themselves from business-related ventures. A major concern of the NCA was the increasing evidence of the illicit involvement of “professional enablers” such as lawyers, accountants, financiers and professionals , working closely in the space between legitimate business, organised crime and politically exposed persons. The message was clear – there is a need for legitimate companies of all sizes and sectors to “wake up and smell the coffee”!

John is a Past Master of the Worshipful Company of World Traders which counts among its members a diverse range of professionals from business, the public sector, education and charity with international backgrounds and experience.

Seminar topics included :

Opportunities for illicit trade practices: tax evasion, money laundering, sanctions busting, false insurance claims, misappropriation and manipulation of export- and project-finance funds.

Human and corporate impacts: modern slavery enforced and child labour across all sectors (including companies turning a blind eye to it on a cost reduction basis), illicit substitutes in food, counterfeiting of medicines, conflict minerals, impact of bribery and corruption on civil society, the disruption of supply chains.

Criminality: material gains from the illegal trade, human trafficking, the ‘illicit factory economy’ for counterfeiting of all types of goods from olive oil medicines to digital devices.

Videos from the event can be seen below:

1. John Burbidge-King – setting the scene and the criminal challenges for business:

2. Dr Alexander Trautrims – the landscape of modern slavery and human trafficking:

3. Panel Discussion – the issues and challenges for business:


Birkbeck’s report on the event can be read here