Publication: Illicit Financial Flows and Governance: The Importance of Disaggregation

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Reuter, Peter
After decades of billion dollar scandals around long-serving dictators removing vast fortunes from their impoverished nations, the broader phenomenon of which this is part has acquired a label: Illicit Financial Flows (IFFs). The term encompasses the international transfer of moneys generated by bribery, tax evasion and illegal markets. IFFs have been the object of much attention from high level bodies such as the G20 and G7. The purpose of this Note is to develop a better understanding of the drivers of the phenomenon itself in terms of governance and also of the governance challenge in trying to reduce IFFs. It deals with the distribution of power as a factor in both aspects. The discussion does not examine the drivers or consequences of the activities that generate most IFFs, such as bribery and tax evasion. Thus a statement that IFFs from criminal earnings does not affect development institutions is not a statement about the adverse effects of a large criminal sector, which may indeed have very serious economic and development consequences. The paper deals only briefly with the contested issues of definition and measurement. This paper has been relentlessly speculative that reflects the state of understanding of the IFF phenomenon. For reform efforts, a good understanding of the governance issues and the obstacles to aligning the interests and capacities of the many participants is crucial.
Reuter, Peter. 2017. Illicit Financial Flows and Governance; Illicit Financial Flows and Governance : The Importance of Disaggregation. World Development Report Background Paper;. © World Bank, Washington, DC. License: CC BY 3.0 IGO.
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