Pillage: a new threat to global supply chains

This paper explores the business risk of association with economic war crimes as supply chains lengthen and activist interest grows. Shifting regulatory, jurisprudential and public opinion landscapes have revitalised the war crime of pillage as an offence, and business must respond.


Pillage poses a multi-layered threat to multinational business. Its interaction with money laundering offences extends the risk from direct involvement to guilt by association. Businesses can be open to prosecution for money laundering if pillaged goods are found in their supply chain. 

The growth in regulation reflects the enhanced recognition of the role business should play in society. It is not enough simply to provide benefits, businesses must also refrain from doing or promoting harm. From a long-term financial perspective, the only real defence against the possible impacts of pillage on a business will be the ability to refute absolutely any allegation of involvement in or connection with pillaged goods in the supply chain. Proper internal controls are essential for this along with the proper design, implementation and operation of due diligence procedures. The skills and experience of qualified accountants around the world will be vital in these areas.