Carlos Lopes talks illicit financial flows in London

Carlos Lopes
Carlos Lopes

Media reports on the so-called Panama Papers have heightened interest in illicit financial flows and global tax issues. The Panama Papers, a trove of 11.5 million leaked internal documents, about 2.6TB of data, from the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca, contains names of hundreds of thousands of people using anonymous shell companies across the world to hide their money.

The developing world, including Africa has been noted to be losing billions of dollars to illicit financial flows and tax havens are known to be some of the sources and facilitators of illicit finance.

This week, the Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), Dr. Carlos Lopes has gone to London to talk about illicit financial flows, investment in Africa and industrialization with some London-based institutions.

A press release from the ECA copied to says, among other meetings, he will address the annual gala dinner of the Law Society in London, focusing on Africa’s investment prospects with more than 200 investors, market leaders and senior decision-makers in attendance.

His address is titled; “Is Africa facing bad weather?”

He is also expected to addresses the annual London School of Economics Africa Summit on Friday on the theme; “Africa within a Global Context”.

“Africa today stands out as the continent with the best opportunities to develop if its resources are effectively harnessed through inclusive structural transformation,” Lopes was quoted as saying.

“As latecomers to this process, an effective structural transformation for Africans means, among other things, making significant productivity gains in rural areas with vibrant hubs of agri-business and linkages across industrial activity,” he said.

The African continent is said to be losing about $60 billion every year through illicit financial outflows (IFFs). The activities of multinational corporations have been identified to be responsible for 60 per cent of the outflows, while criminal activities such as human trafficking and money laundering drive 35 per cent, corruption plays a five per cent role in shifting all these money out of the continent.

Global volumes of illicit financial flows have reportedly reached $1.1 trillion in 2013. The developing world lost $7.8 trillion between 2004 and 2013, the last year for which data are available, according to a report by the Global Financial Integrity (GFI), a Washington DC-based research and advisory organization.

While in London, Lopes will also participate in a panel discussion on illicit financial flows. That would seek to provide a thorough understanding of the causes and effects of illicit financial flows from Africa, the modalities and the role of domestic and international policies and laws towards curbing the practice.

By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi

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