Mbeki leads team tracking illegal cash flows from DRC

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    Africa’s 10-member High Level Panel on Illicit Financial Flows will next week embark on a three-day visit to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to examine the seriousness and complexity of the problem of illegal money outflows from the troubled mineral-rich country, it was officially announced here Friday.

    Headed by former South African President Thabo Mbeki, members of the panel will explore the key drivers of the flows, what the authorities in Kinshasa and other stakeholders are doing to reverse the situation and what obstacles stand in the way of their efforts.

    The 26-28 Aug. 2013 visit is part of their seven-nation case-study tours to get to the root of illicit flows of money from Africa and make recommendations to stop it and repair the loss caused, the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) said.

    According to ECA, the high point of the panel’s visit to DRC will be Mbeki’s tête-à-tête with President Joseph Kabila, to be followed by a round table discussion with the host President and members of DRC’s Economic Management Team (EMT), including a cross-section of cabinet ministers.

    The panel will also have working sessions with heads of several state institutions, the Governor of the country’s Central Bank, the head of its Financial Intelligence Unit and key civil society stakeholders.

    It is estimated that Africa loses at least US$50 billion yearly due to illicit financial flows – a figure that exceeds the official development assistance it receives.

    The idea of setting up the high-level panel was hatched in Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital, in March 2011 during the Fourth Joint Annual Meeting of the Africa Union (AU) Conference of Ministers of Economy and Finance and the ECA Conference of African Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development.

    Subsequently, the panel started full-fledged work on 5 Feb. 2012 with an overall mission “to make clear recommendations on curbing illicit financial flows from Africa.”

    Its long-term objective is to examine the factors underlying illicit financial flows from Africa and prod the G-20 to improve transparency measures and strengthen the auditing of banks and international financial centres, as well as offshore financial centres that absorb such flows.

    Supported by a technical committee and a secretariat, which is headed by the director of ECA’s Macroeconomic Policy Division, the panel carries out its mission by lobbying governments and key actors to build a coalition against illicit financial flows from Africa, consults with governments and the general public, organises follow-up workshops to prepare reports on the data collected from consultations and produces knowledge products on curbing the flows.

    In addition, it will mobilise the necessary political support from African governments, regional and international organisations, civil society, the private sector and other stakeholders to enforce the necessary measures that would help curb the phenomenon.

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