That Time Somali Pirates Set Up An Investment Exchange

Samuel Reason - June 20th, 2020

Somali pirates from Greater Somalia had an ingenious idea to continue funding their pirating operations, they decided to put themselves on the public market allowing investors to buy in and own shares of their pirating plunder. Of course, they couldn’t put themselves on a traditional stock market given the illegal nature of their business, so they simply set up their exchange. The sea gangs met up in Haradheere and set up a cooperative to fund their hijacking.

You could think of it as a stock market that meets criminal syndicates. Armed pirates have been terrorizing the lawless seas of the Horn of Africa for generations. Shipping lanes from the Indian Ocean to the Gulf of Aden are all rich with juicy targets for the sea gangs of Somalia. Many of the most successful pirating gangs have made over tens of millions of dollars in ransoms. Even when foreign navies started to patrol the area it didn’t stop the pirating, they simply hunted further from the shorelines.

Seeing investment opportunities in this lucrative business shady financiers from around the world were drawn to Somalia, prompting the pirates to set up an exchange where they could easily manage their investments. One wealthy pirate told several news reporters that it was an easy way to win the support of the local people, where they could share in the spoils. A crucial element of the pirates being able to stay incognito when on land is to have the support of the local community.

The exchange is set to have started with 15 maritime companies and is now home to 72, anyone can invest: in person by joining the operations or by providing cash to fund the piracy. Mainly this venture has grown because the local Somalian government has lost control of the country. They are busy battling hardline Islamist revolutionaries in the capital city, meaning nobody is controlling the city of Haradhere.

The piracy-related activity has been much more profitable than relying on any economic activity in the country, without it many of the locals would be starving and dying. One investor was able to provide a rocket-propelled grenade that she had received in alimony from a late husband, as a result, she now stands to receive over $32,000 U.S. Dollars in dividends from the “pirate company.”

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