Wednesday, December 11, 2013

aid, trade, and criminality

It all sounds super-nefarious: Global Financial Integrity, a Washington-based non-profit, reports that developing countries across the globe lost almost $1 trillion from illicit financial flows in 2011. Sub-Saharan Africa--a region that needs all the money it can get--lost $52 billion in 2011, the equivalent of 5.7 percent of total Gross Domestic Product drained from the region's economies. Leading the list of the porous states on the continent: Nigeria, which lost $142.3 billion between 2002 and 2011.

So who are these criminals who are bleeding developing countries dry? It ain't terrorists or criminal cartels. Rather, the criminal enterprises at the root of this are mostly respected multinational corporations.

Though transfers from criminal cartels and terrorist organisations are a problem, the report concluded that the majority of this illegal financial activity stems from misleading and discounted trade invoices filed by international corporations.

And here's an amazing stat: this corporate malfeasance amounted to ten times the total value the developing world received in aid. Think about that the next time you consider the aid vs. trade question.

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