Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Complexity science approach to economic crime


János Kertész and Johannes Wachs discuss how complexity science and network science are particularly useful for identifying and describing the hidden traces of economic misbehaviour such as fraud and corruption.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution

Relevant articles

Open Access articles citing this article.

Access options

Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.


All prices are NET prices.


  1. Heywood, P. M. & Rose, J. Close but no cigar: the measurement of corruption. J. Public Policy 34, 507–529 (2014).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Wachs, J., Fazekas, M. & Kertész, J. Corruption risk in contracting markets: a network science perspective. Int. J. Data Sci. Anal. (2020).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Garcia-Bernardo, J., Fichtner, J., Takes, F. W. & Heemskerk, E. M. Uncovering offshore financial centers: conduits and sinks in the global corporate ownership network. Sci. Rep. 7, 6246 (2017).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  4. Andersen, J. A., Johannesen, N. & Rijkers, B. Elite capture of foreign aid, evidence from offshore bank accounts. World Bank Policy Research Working Paper, 9150 (2020).

  5. Ribeiro, H. V., Alves, L. G. A., Martins, A. F., Lenzi, E. K. & Perc, M. The dynamical structure of political corruption networks. J. Complex Netw. 6, 989–1003 (2018).

    Article  MathSciNet  Google Scholar 

  6. Luna-Pla, I. & Nicolás-Carlock, J. R. Corruption and complexity: a scientific framework for the analysis of corruption networks. Appl. Netw. Sci. 5, 13 (2020).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Wachs, J. & Kertész, J. A network approach to cartel detection in public auction markets. Sci. Rep. 9, 10818 (2019).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  8. Macy, M. W. & Willer, R. From factors to actors: computational sociology and agent-based modeling. Annu. Rev. Sociol. 28, 143–166 (2002).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Arthur, W. B. Complexity and the economy. Science 284, 107–109 (1999).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  10. Battiston, S., Puliga, M., Kaushik, R., Tasca, P. & Caldarelli, G. DebtRank: too central to fail? Financial networks, the Fed and systemic risk. Sci. Rep. 2, 541 (2012).

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

Download references


J.K. acknowledges support from the Hungarian Scientific Research Fund (OTKA K129124).

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to János Kertész.

Ethics declarations

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing interests.

Additional information

Related links

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists: The Panama Papers

UN News: The costs of corruption

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Kertész, J., Wachs, J. Complexity science approach to economic crime. Nat Rev Phys 3, 70–71 (2021).

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:

This article is cited by


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing