86 master's students took NHH's course on economic crime
`With a future job in finance, this course is highly relevant´, says master's student Daniel Botten (25).
At NHH, all students in the master's programme are required to select at least one course designated ethics. This spring, 86 master's students chose the course "Detecting Corporate Crime". It enables them to analyze crime risks within the organization, government and market and recognize when and how to blow the whistle safely on crime.
Master's student Jonas Hasle (25) from Oslo was among the students.
`I thought the course in corporate crime seemed interesting, because we learn how to uncover crime and crime risk within the organization in the business world´, says Hasle.
Associate Professor Gavrilova-Zoutman at the Department of Business Administration is course responsible. She is an expert on how to detect economic crime using big data and detection strategies.
`Economic crime is the most common type of crime and many NHH candidates will go into jobs which require both knowledge and tools in order to be able to detect and investigate this type of crime´, Gavrilova-Zoutman says.
But, she says, the most important thing is their mindset.
`I want them to think independently and depend on their own judgements when they discover violation of law. A critical mindset is crucial. Then they can detect and report financial crime in their own organization´.
High rate of corruption
`How did you become interested in the field of economic crime´?
`There are several reasons. Mainly, I am from Bulgaria, historically a country with a high rate of corruption and economic crime. It is of great concern. This has lead me on to trying to find evidence of these crimes in public datasets´ the researcher says, and adds:
– Searching for evidence is almost like hunting. Finding the evidence is a bit of a rush.
– Why «Detecting Corporate Crime»?
In the auditorium at NHH, the researcher holds her final lecture this semester:
`We are talking about unethical behavior. How does a criminal make a decision to commit a crime, and what type of white-collar crime? Now you have the tools to ask the right questions. You also know how to blow the whistle against your own company, if you must´, says Gavrilova-Zoutman to the master's students.
Håkon Bjørhovde (24) from Stavanger, Mathias Gimming (22) from Fredrikstad and Daniel Botten (25) from Sandefjord are students at the «Detecting Corporate Crime». They met at the matriculation in 2018 and have been friends since then. They also live together in Bergen.
`We all specialize in finance and can be exposed to such dilemmas that are discussed in the course, so this is quite relevant´, says Botten.
`The course sounded cool. I thought this was an ethics course that was exciting, also because we use data from the real world´, says Bjørhovde.
Gimming agrees with his fellow students:
`And working with real data makes this exciting and interesting´.
How Norwegian Salmon jumped sanctions
Botten, Hasle, Bjørhovde og Gimming analyzed export data for Norwegian salmon after 2010 for the main assignment in the crime course. By 2010, China had introduced restrictions on Norwegian goods, in response to the Nobel Peace Prize going to the dissident Liu Xiaobo.
Despite sanctions, fresh Norwegian salmon still entered the Chinese market, as NRK Brennpunkt recently showed. The fish was smuggled in via Vietnam.
`Salmon exports to Vietnam have received a lot of attention. We wanted to take a closer look at public trade data that shows the export of salmon to China's other neighbors´, says Håkon Bjørhovde.
As they processed the data, the four master's students came up with figures for Hong Kong.
`Exports to Hong Kong increased in the period 2010-2015, while it fell for China. As exports to Hong Kong increased until 2015, it can be argued that China's soft sanctions were not implemented in Hong Kong. Thus, Hong Kong may have served as a lock for smuggling salmon to China during this period´, says Bjørhovde.
Great media coverage
The NHH students' work is in line with previous studies, which have discussed whether there have been alternative routes into China, but this has been challenging to prove and quantify.