Research: Publications

Illicit Financial Flows From Developing Countries: 2001-2010

December 17, 2012 | Report

By Global Financial Integrity

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The report is GFI’s annual update on the amount of money flowing out of developing economies via crime, corruption and tax evasion, and it is the first of GFI’s reports to include data for the year 2010.

Co-authored by GFI Lead Economist Dev Kar and GFI Economist Sarah Freitas, the study is the first by GFI to incorporate a new, more conservative, estimate of illicit financial flows, facilitating comparisons with previous estimates from GFI updates.

“Astronomical sums of dirty money continue to flow out of the developing world and into offshore tax havens and developed country banks,” said GFI Director Raymond Baker.  “Regardless of the methodology, it’s clear: developing economies are hemorrhaging more and more money at a time when rich and poor nations alike are struggling to spur economic growth. This report should be a wake-up call to world leaders that more must be done to address these harmful outflows.”

 As developing countries begin to loosen capital controls, the possibility exists that the methodology utilized in previous GFI reports—known as the World Bank Residual Plus Trade Mispricing method—could increasingly pick-up some licit capital flows.  The methodology introduced in this report— the Hot Money Narrow Plus Trade Mispricing method—ensures that all flow estimates are strictly illicit moving forward, but may omit some illicit financial flows detected in the previous methodology.

“The estimates provided by either methodology are still likely to be extremely conservative as they do not include trade mispricing in services, same-invoice trade mispricing, hawala transactions, and dealings conducted in bulk cash,” explained Dr. Kar, who previously served as a senior economist at the International Monetary Fund.  “This means that much of the proceeds of drug trafficking, human smuggling, and other criminal activities, which are often settled in cash, are not included in these estimates.”

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