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IMF-World Bank meetings in Marrakesh: Increase attention to illicit financial flows undermining sustainable development in Africa

As the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank prepare to galvanise multilateral action to address pressing global problems, Transparency International is calling for more ambition in the fight against corruption. This week’s gathering in Marrakech, Morocco marks the first time the two bodies will hold their annual meetings outside the United States. There could not be a more opportune moment for policymakers to discuss solutions to global challenges, particularly those that impact Africa.

To make progress on the critical issues of poverty eradication, climate action, aid effectiveness and pandemic preparedness, delegates from host institutions and national governments must get more serious about anti-corruption, transparency and accountability measures.

There is also an urgent need to scale up global efforts to curb illicit financial flows which, unless addressed, will continue to undermine multilateral action in all other areas.

Africa loses an estimated US$98 billion every year to illicit financial flows. Forthcoming analysis by Transparency International confirms that professional enablers operating abroad – primarily in major financial centres and secrecy jurisdictions – play a crucial role in these funds leaving the continent.

Rueben Lifuka, vice chair of Transparency International, said:

“When policymakers come together in disaster-hit Morocco to discuss the world economic outlook, they cannot afford to ignore the problem of illicit financial flows that African countries are especially vulnerable to. The IMF and the World Bank have a role in helping to stop continued plundering of the continent. They should promote solutions to fix the global financial system so that dedicated financing boosts sustainable development and doesn’t end up in the wrong pockets.”

Both the World Bank and IMF should commit to ensuring that technical assistance programmes and country evaluations help African nations to better prevent and detect corruption before funds are siphoned off abroad. To that end, they should prioritise measures that strengthen beneficial ownership transparency, improve regulation and supervision of professional enablers, and increase capacity of financial intelligence units.

The IMF has previously committed to examine the transnational aspects of corruption, including the role of advanced economies in perpetuating cross-border financial crime. Transparency International urges the fund to conduct further analysis of money laundering threats and vulnerabilities, building on its recent assessment conducted in Northern Europe. Such analyses can help the international community to better understand what steps need to be taken to stop the flows of dirty money.

Note to editors

On Wednesday, 11 October, 10:30-12:00 (GMT+1), Tax Justice Network Africa, Transparency International, Stop the Bleeding campaign and the Tunisian Observatory of Economy will host a discussion, African Perspectives on the Reforms of the International Financial Architecture (location: SC06 Acacia). The session is part of the Civil Society Policy Forum running alongside the IMF and World Bank annual meetings.