The Current

The business of piracy

Hundreds of millions of dollars in ransom have been collected by pirates in the last decade, but the guys who actually commandeer the ships have very little to yo-ho-ho about. And a new report says the sea-going sons of Captain Blood are actually cogs in a professional vertically-integrated business that's costing us billions....
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Hundreds of millions of dollars in ransom have been collected by pirates in the last decade, but the guys who actually commandeer the ships have very little to yo-ho-ho about. And a new report says the sea-going sons of Captain Blood are actually cogs in a professional vertically-integrated business that's costing us billions.



A pirate's life isn't for everyone. There's the risk of drowning, prison time and the low status. And the take-home wages can be lower than the bilge rats.


Tom Hanks stars in "Captain Philips," the new Hollywood blockbuster about a cargo ship seized by Somali pirates. The U.S. navy put a bloody end to that crisis. But a much more typical end is for the shipping companies to pay millions of dollars in ransom.

How to negotiate like a Somali Pirate -- The Economist

Nearly 200 ships were hijacked off the Horn of Africa since 2005... earning pirates an estimated $400 million-dollars. What the pirates do with all that money has been something of a mystery ... until now.

The Piracy Money Cycle -- The World Bank (pdf)

StuartYikona.jpgA landmark study into the economics of Somali piracy has recently been released by the World Bank.

We're looking into pirate treasure as part of our ongoing series, Project Money.

Stuart Yikona of the World Bank is co-author of the report Pirate Trails and he joined us from Washington D.C.


This segment was produced by The Current's Peter Mitton.

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