New Thomson Reuters Foundation Media Program to Investigate Illicit Finance, Tax Abuse

July 17th, 2014

This post originally appeared on the blog of Global Financial Integrity, a member of the FTC.

Thomson Reuters Foundation Seeks Applications from African Media for Illicit Finance Training and Assistance Program by July 28th

6198428500_15e8067a95_zAre you an ambitious journalist in Africa with an interest in probing illicit finance, money laundering, and tax related abuses? Or, perhaps, you represent an outstanding, independent media organization based in Africa with a desire and reputation for exposing financial crime and corruption?

Either way, the Thomson Reuters Foundation is launching a new three-year program assisting African media on the reporting of illicit finance and tax abuse, and they are hoping that you will apply.  According to the TR Foundation:

African economies lose huge sums of money every year through practices such as tax evasion and avoidance, often carried out by large companies. However, this phenomenon receives little attention and is rarely the subject of in-depth investigation.

Thomson Reuters Foundation believes that African media has a vital role to play in bringing this issue to light and exposing tax abuse where it is taking place. We also believe that collaboration between journalists and media organisations across borders is essential when reporting on money flows between countries.

We are seeking outstanding journalists and ambitious, independent media organisations to join us in this new project.

Illicit financial flows are a major problem for Africa. GFI research finds that (in constant 2005 U.S. dollars) Sub-Saharan Africa suffered US$419.1 billion in illicit outflows between 2002-2011. Indeed, as a percent of GDP,  Africa suffered higher illicit financial outflows than any other region in the world.

The economic problem is so severe that it is swamping out all legal inflows of capital and resources into the continent. Our May 2013 joint report with the African Development Bank found that, after adjusting all legal net recorded transfers of capital (such as investment, foreign aid, debt relief, exports, imports, remittances, etc.) to Africa  for illicit financial outflows, the continent still suffered between US$597 billion and US$1.4 trillion in net resource outflows over the period from 1980 through 2009.

Even at the most conservative estimates (seen in the table above), vastly more money is flowing out of Africa than is flowing in. No wonder the continent continues to struggle with a development problem.

Still, stories about illicit financial flows remain significantly under-reported across the continent, so we are thrilled that the Thomson Reuters Foundation is undertaking this program to assist local and regional media in exposing the most damaging economic problem facing Africa.

If you’re an African journalist interested in the program, you can learn more about it and apply here.  Be sure to get your application in by the July 28th deadline!

Image used under Creative Commons license / Flickr User: GlobalX

Written by Clark Gascoigne

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