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Illegal Money Transfers From Developing Nations Nearing $1 Trillion

Guinea money
Latest data show that $946 billion flowed out of developing countries illegally. Above, a pile of Guinean money.

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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