A nonprofit research organization based in Washington, D.C., estimates that in 2011 — the latest data available — $946.7 billion flowed out of developing countries in various illegal ways, including diversions by corrupt officials and businesses as well as through tax evasion, terrorist transfers and cash moved across borders in the suitcases of traffickers.
Furthermore, the organization, Global Financial Integrity, reports that the figure is a conservative estimate that cannot be considered totally comprehensive.
“US $947 billion is a tremendous amount of money to drain out of developing countries,” the research group said, adding that the money that is escaping outpaces funds coming into these countries in investments, debt forgiveness, exports of natural resources and remittances from citizens abroad, a major source of income in numerous nations. The World Bank’s most recent estimates of remittances find that their total worth is expected to reach $435 billion in 2014.
Global Financial Integrity reports that “illicit financial outflows from developing countries ultimately end up in banks in developed countries like the United States and United Kingdom, as well as tax havens like Switzerland, the Virgin Islands or Singapore.” This means that richer countries are the beneficiaries of many of the illegal movement of money, and should be considered part of the problem.
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Dulcie Leimbach is a co-founder, with Barbara Crossette, of PassBlue. For PassBlue and other publications, Leimbach has reported from New York and overseas from West Africa (Burkina Faso and Mali) and from Europe (Scotland, Sicily, Vienna, Budapest, Kyiv, Armenia, Iceland and The Hague). She has provided commentary on the UN for BBC World Radio, ARD German TV and Radio, NHK’s English channel, Background Briefing with Ian Masters/KPFK Radio in Los Angeles and the Foreign Press Association.
Previously, she was an editor for the Coalition for the UN Convention Against Corruption; from 2008 to 2011, she was the publications director of the United Nations Association of the USA. Before UNA, Leimbach was an editor at The New York Times for more than 20 years, editing and writing for most sections of the paper, including the Magazine, Book Review and Op-Ed. She began her reporting career in small-town papers in San Diego, Calif., and Boulder, Colo., graduating to the Rocky Mountain News in Denver and then working at The Times. Leimbach has been a fellow at the CUNY Graduate Center’s Ralph Bunche Institute for International Studies as well as at Yaddo, the artists’ colony in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.; taught news reporting at Hofstra University; and guest-lectured at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and the CUNY Journalism School. She graduated from the University of Colorado and has an M.F.A. in writing from Warren Wilson College in North Carolina. She lives in Brooklyn, N.Y.