In an assertive but unsurprising move, the Obama administration threw a road block between Wall Street and some of the world's most prominent organized crime gangs, including a yakuza godfather and his deputy. We say unsurprising because these groups make their money from things like trafficking in human slaves and selling drugs. "They use our financial system, they use our commercial system to both penetrate the markets, to disrupt the markets and to make use of their illicit proceeds," David Cohen, the Treasury's Undersecretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence explained to Reuters. "One of the things that these organizations do is use the wealth they earn from illegal activities to try and infiltrate legitimate markets… That creates distortion in the market that we are trying to address."
With regard to the two yakuza, the move matches recent efforts in Japan to keep organized crime out of the economic machine. Last summer, the Japanese government made it illegal to share profits with the yakuza. But those efforts have backfired there, to a certain extent, as the yakuza simply moved from traditional investments to infiltrating the corporate boardrooms themselves, according to The Guardian -- notably winning a large number of contracts for post-earthquake reconstruction. As our own yakuza correspondent Jake Adelstein pointed out not long thereafter, the conflict could inevitably lead companies like TEPCO to be nationalized in order to shake out the mob.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.