Illicit Outflows Cost African Nations $854 Billion Since 1970

March 29th, 2010

By Warren Giles

March 26 (Bloomberg) — African nations lost $854 billion in illegally transferred funds over the past four decades, at least double the official development assistance given to the continent, according to a report released today.

Africa Report Cover ShotThe biggest outflows between 1970 and 2008 were from Nigeria with a total of $240.7 billion, according to figures published today in a report called Illicit Financial Flows From Africa by Global Financial Integrity, part of a Washington-based research group.

“Staunching this devastating outflow of much-needed capital is essential to achieving economic development and poverty alleviation goals in these countries,” Global Financial Integrity Director Raymond Baker said in the report.

Global Financial Integrity used the World Bank Residual model and the International Monetary Fund’s Direction of Trade Statistics to calculate the outflows.

The late Nigerian military dictator, General Sani Abacha, allegedly stole more than $3 billion of public funds, of which $450 million is still missing, the Lagos-based Guardian reported last May, citing the country’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission. Abacha took control of Nigeria in a military coup in 1993 and ruled the country until his death in 1998.

Switzerland returned about $458 million in assets that were held in Swiss banks to Nigeria in 2005 and last November a Swiss judge declared Abba Abacha, the son of the former dictator, a member of a criminal organization and froze about $350 million of his assets.

Five countries with highest illicit outflows according to GFI:

  1. Nigeria: $240.7 billion
  2. Egypt: $131.3 billion
  3. South Africa: $76.4 billion
  4. Morocco: $41.0 billion
  5. Algeria: $35.1 billion

–Editor: Dylan Griffiths, Stephen Taylor

Reproduced with permission of Bloomberg L.P.

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