Estimating Illicit Financial Flows: A Critical Guide to the Data, Methodologies, and Findings

ISBN : 9780198854418

Alex Cobham; Peter Jansky
224 Pages
153 x 153 mm
Pub date
Jan 2020
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Illicit financial flows constitute a global phenomenon of massive but uncertain scale, which erodes government revenues and drives corruption in countries rich and poor. In 2015, the countries of the world committed to a target to reduce illicit flows, as part of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. But five years later, there is still no agreement on how that target should be monitored or how it will be achieved. Illicit financial flows occur through many different channels, whether they involve laundering the proceeds of crime or shifting profits of multinational companies. These deliberately hidden cross-border movements of assets and income streams depend on a set of common tools including opaque company accounts, legal vehicles for anonymous ownership, and the secrecy jurisdictions that provide these series. The overall effect is to reduce the revenue available to states and to weaken the quality of governance - leading to less money to support human development, and a lower likelihood of funds being well spent. Estimating Illicit Financial Flows: A Critical Guide to the Data, Methodologies, and Findings is authored by two of the economists most closely involved in the process to develop UN indicators of illicit financial flows. In it, they offer a critical survey of the existing data and methodologies, identifying the most promising avenues for future improvement and setting out their own proposals. They cover a range of corrupt practices aimed at obtaining immunity or impunity from criminal law, from market regulation, and from taxation.


Part I. Illicit Financial Flows
1 History and overview of 'IFF'
Part II. Estimates of IFF Scale
2 Trade estimates
3 Capital wealth estimates
4 International corporate tax avoidance
Part III. Proposals for IFF monitoring
5 Beyond scale: Risk- and policy-based indicators
6 New proposals for IFF indicators in the Sustainable Development Goals
7 Conclusion

About the author: 

Alex Cobham is an economist and Chief Executive of the Tax Justice Network. He is also a founding member of the steering group of the Independent Commission for the Reform of International Corporate Taxation, and of the technical advisory group for the Fair Tax Mark. His work focuses on illicit financial flows, effective taxation for development, and inequality. He has been a researcher at Oxford University, Christian Aid, Save the Children, and the Center for Global Development, and has consulted widely, including for UNCTAD, the UN Economic Commission for Africa, DFID, and the World Bank. ; Petr Jansky is Associate Professor in Economics, at Charles University, Prague. He has published widely on tax matters including corporate tax avoidance in particular, and engaged in policy analysis at each of Czech, EU and global levels. He has also consulted widely, including for the European Parliament, UNCTAD, the Tax Justice Network, and Oxfam. Current research collaborations include the European Commission's COFFERS programme ('Combating Fiscal Fraud and Empowering Regulators'), bringing together researchers from universities across the EU including the UK, Ireland, Denmark, Netherlands, Germany, and the Czech Republic, as well as Turkey.

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