Explore & master

4 questions to Bertrand Monnet on criminal risks

Bertrand Monnet , Senior Lecturer, Holder - Criminal Risks Management Chair

A few weeks after the publication of a series of news reports in partnership with Le Monde (1), viewed more than 1.6 million times to date, Bertrand Monnet, Professeur titulaire de la chaire EDHEC Criminal Risk Management, looks back at his methodology, motivations and ambitions.

Reading time :
14 Feb 2024

Why do you think it's essential to train as many students as possible in criminal risks?

The impact of the criminal economy on the legal economy may seem exotic, but the reality in which our students will be working is, unfortunately, very different... Last year, cyber attacks cost the global economy 8,000 billion dollars, the dirty money laundered through legal businesses and financial markets is estimated by the IMF to be between 800 and 2,700 billion dollars a year, or 1 to 3% of global GDP, internal fraud costs a company an average of 5% of its revenues...


Our students did not come to EDHEC to become specialists in the management of such strong and specific risks: in the future, they will be able to mobilise dedicated consultants, insurers and public authorities. But the action that only they can take as managers is essential: detecting the presence of these risks in their daily business biotope and measuring their potential impact. Then they can make strategic choices to protect their companies in four key areas: the human and natural environment in which they operate, their operations, their assets and their reputation.


What negotiations and contracts should we put in place with our key suppliers to prevent counterfeiting of our blockbuster drug in Asia? What development strategy should we adopt to prevent our fintech from serving as a platform for money laundering and tax evasion? What policies should we put in place for executive remuneration to prevent fraud? What technological investments should we make in our IT infrastructure to limit the impact of cyber-extortion? This is the type of choice that the Criminal Risk Management Chair courses prepare EDHEC students for in a wide range of programmes: MBAs, Masters of Science, Masters, Bachelor's, etc.


What methodology do you use to deliver these courses?

Like all EDHEC professors, I base my teaching methods on research that enables me to decipher the reality of my subject and teach it to our students. In the same way as professors of finance, law or management in their subject, I observe the reality of the criminal economy in the field, as close as possible to those who 'make' it, and then analyse the repercussions of this illicit value creation on the companies that our students will later manage.

When it comes to money laundering, for example, my working method consists of following dirty money from the coca fields and cocaine laboratories in Colombia to Dubai, where narco money is laundered and then reinvested in thousands of companies that may tomorrow be suppliers, competitors or acquisition targets for legal companies around the world.


Like my fellow professors, this research takes time and requires a great deal of resilience: I fail in 90% of my projects. Meeting a narco boss or a seasoned hacker takes years. But it's the only way of delivering accurate, robust lessons on subjects that are unfortunately dealt with in an approximate way that's out of touch with reality in many academic institutions...


How do you analyse the considerable impact (2) of your latest work published in Le Monde?

The partnership we have set up with Le Monde (1) is a natural extension of this research methodology, while at the same time meeting our commitment to making an impact beyond our campuses. The case studies I carry out in the field by observing trafficking and interviewing hackers, Mexican traffickers and Nigerian pirates provide me with interesting material for writing reports and producing the video documentaries published by Le Monde, as part of a formal and open partnership with EDHEC. These productions reach a wide readership, in French and English, via the distribution of the paper newspaper and website, as well as on Le Monde's Youtube channel, where the documentaries have generated over 1.6 million views to date.


For EDHEC, these productions provide an opportunity to meet a demanding 'general public' audience, which seeks to understand the issues and interactions of the criminal economy, a real cancer on our society. On this specific subject, as on climate change, diversity and the digitalisation of law, our school is well placed to contribute to a better future through research and teaching.


How do you see the next few months?

I'm currently working on the production of the next seasons of the documentary series in partnership with Le Monde in Brazil, Colombia and a Scandinavian country.

But what I'm most interested in at the moment are the courses on our campuses: my real passion...

March will also be the month of a series of five lectures given as part of the Ateliers du Monde, in the newspaper's auditorium and online (3), every Wednesday from 6 March to 3 April: I think there are still a few places left!



(1) "Narcobusiness" (2023), partnership Le Monde / EDHEC. Episode 1 : « Inside the labs that manufacture fentanyl: Watch the first episode of 'Narco Business' » - Episode 2 : « From a Mexican cartel to the streets of New York: A deep dive into the business of fentanyl » - Episode 3 : « How to launder $50 million in Dubai: Watch the third episode of Narco Business ». These 3 video reports have been supplemented by articles and an interview on the behind-the-scenes aspects of this extraordinary investigation: to access all the content, follow this link

(2)A selection of the articles and interviews published following the release of "Narcobusiness" is available on the Chair's website : https://www.edhec.edu/en/research-and-faculty/centres-and-chairs/criminal-risks-management-chair/informing

(3) Bertrand Monnet - Cours du soir (in French) : Immersion dans l’économie du crime. En présentiel ou en ligne. https://ateliers.lemonde.fr/Bertrand-Monnet-/126