Illegal financial deals: Over $845b siphoned out of Africa in 38 years

27_3_iffThe African continent is losing large sums of money to illegal financial deals.

The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) citing some sources say as much as $854 billion were siphoned out of the continent between 1970 and 2008, with another $945 billion lost due to other cross-border illegalities such as mis-invoicing and smuggling which are not included in the initial reckoning.

In seeking to address this negative development, the Second Session of the Meeting of the High-Level Panel on Illicit Financial Flows from Africa at the weekend adopted a framework action plan to jumpstart its activities and place illicit financial flows on the forefront of policy discourse on the continent.

The meeting presided over by its chair, Thabo Mbeki, former South African President underscored the volume and scale of different aspects of illicit financial flows, including theft and bribery by public officials, corporate transactions and criminal activities.

“It felt that the consequences and effects of such forms of illicit financial flows were more pertinent to its work than their relative magnitude,” a press release from the ECA copied to has said.

According to the release, members urged the domestication and implementation of the UN Convention Against Corruption and the AUCPCC, including the provisions on assets repatriation.

Similarly, it said they took note of the country-by-country reporting system currently under discussion in the European Union which was seen as a potentially significant effort that would assist in stemming the practice of illicit money transfers.

The Panel also resolved to bring the matter to the attention of the wider public through targeted messaging and building of strong coalitions and partnerships with relevant stakeholders including the NEPAD Heads of State and Government Orientation Committee, the African Forum of Former Heads of State and Government as well as state and non-state actors including central banks, civil society organizations and the private sector, it said.

The High-Level Panel on Illicit Financial Flows from Africa was established in 2011 following a resolution of the 4th Joint Annual Meetings of the ECA/AU Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development in Africa in March 2011, the release indicated.

The Panel brings together eminent personalities from within and outside Africa who share a common concern and expertise in the financial aspects of Africa’s development.

It is led by Thabo Mbeki, while UN Under-Secretary General and Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa, Abdoulie Janneh, serves as Vice Chair. Its Technical Committee is headed by Dr. Abdalla Hamdok, the Deputy Executive Secretary of ECA, the release said.

By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi

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