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Ethiopia lost an astonishing USD 1.685 billion through capital flight during a ten year period from 2001-10 according to a report by Global Financial Integrity (GFI) a US based think tank that collects data from more than 140 developing countries.
The report placed Ethiopia 35th among the world and fifth from Africa making it one of the worst with regards to Illicit Financial Flows in the Africa continent.
Ethiopia was only overtaken in the continent by the oil producing nation of Nigeria which took the first position for the African continent standing at seventh place globally, followed by Africa’s largest economy South Africa at 12th place, while Egypt stood at 23rd place and Sudan ranked 26th . The developing world is estimated to have lost USD 859 billion in illicit outflows in 2010 alone according to the report, an increase of 11 percent over the 2009 period with the source of capital outflows stemming from crime, corruption, tax evasion and other illicit activity.
The developing world in the data considered lost a staggering USD 5.86 trillion to illicit outflows during the 2001-10 period. In its third annual report GFI stated that, based on what is a conservative estimate in increase of illicit financial flows, the African continent is placed at 23.8 percent, second only to the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region which stood at 26.3 percent.
Trade mispricing was found to account for an average of 80 percent of cumulative illicit flows from developing countries over the period 2001-2010.
Bribery, kickbacks and the proceeds of corruption continued to be the primary driver of illicit financial flows from the Middle East and North Africa, while trade mispricing was the primary driver of illicit financial flows in the other regions.
Based on its finding the world’s second largest economy, China which is expected in the near future to eclipse the United States as the world’s largest economy, topped the list by far with more than USD 2.74 trillion estimated to have made it in capital flights, followed by Mexico at just over USD 475 billion and Malaysia standing at USD 28.5 billion.
In what may be even more startling data the report said China continued to lead the developing world in illicit outflows losing USD 420.4 billion in 2010.
Perhaps not surprisingly Asia accounted for almost 61 percent of total illicit flows from the developing world followed by the Western Hemisphere at just over 15.3 percent, the Middle East and North Africa following at 10.28 percent, developing Europe at 6.93 percent and the Sub-Saharan Africa region at 6.57 percent.
The estimates provided by the institute methodology are still likely to be extremely conservative as it said it doesn’t include trade mispricing in services, same-invoice trade mispricing, and dealings conducted in bulk cash.
The GFI report further stated that the illicit outflows measured in this report are approximately 10 times the USD 88 billion of net official development assistance (ODA) that went into these developing countries in 2010. This meant that for every USD 1 going into a developing country in economic development assistance, USD 10 is lost via these illicit outflows.
The report mentioned several solutions for this serious ill that continue to plague both the developed and developing nations, among which increasing transparency in the global financial system, reforming customs and trade protocols to detect and curtail trade mispricing are noted.
It also recommended as a solution requiring a country-by-country reporting of sales, profits and taxes paid by multinational corporations and ensuring that the anti-money laundering regulations already on the books are strongly enforced.
GFI was established in 2006 aimed at promoting national and multilateral policies, safeguards, and agreements aimed at curtailing the cross-border flow of illegal money.
It also says it puts forward solutions, facilitates strategic partnerships, and conducts groundbreaking research, with a view to leading the way in efforts to curtail illicit financial flows and enhance global development and security.