The High Level Panel on Illicit Financial Flows from Africa, established by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) was inaugurated on 18th February 2012 at the Sandton Convention Centre, Johannesburg, South Africa. The Panel is chaired by H.E. Mr. Thabo Mbeki, former president of South Africa, and composed of nine other members both from within and outside the continent. The Panel Members are as follows:
1. Chair: H.E. Mr. Thabo Mbeki, former President of South Africa;
2. Vice Chair: Mr. Abdoulie Janneh, Under-Secretary General and Executive Secretary of ECA;
3. Amb. Olusegun Apata- Chairman, Coca Cola Bottling Company, Nigerria;
4. Mr. Raymond Baker- Director, Global Financial Integrity, Washington DC;
5. Dr. Zeinab Bashir el Bakri-former Vice President of the African Development Bank, Tunisia;
6. Mr. Abdoulaye Bio-Tchane-former Minister of Finance and Economy of Benin;
7. H.E. Mrs. Ingrid Fiskaa- State Secretary for Environment and International Development, Norway;
8. Prof. El Hadi Makboul- Director, National Centre for the Study and Analysis of Population and Development (CENEAP), Algeria;
9. Barrister Akere Muna- President, Pan-African Lawyers Union, President, ECOSOC, Member, Eminent Persons Panel of the APRM, and Vice President, Transparency International;
10. Ms. Irene Ovonji-Odida- Human rights lawyer and activist for over 21 years and elected member of the East African Regional Parliament for five years.
The establishment of the High Level Panel (HLP) follows a resolution of the 4th Joint Annual Meetings of the ECA/AU Conference of Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development in Africa in March 2011, which decided to address the debilitating problem of illicit financial outflows from Africa estimated at about $50 billion annually, in mandating the establishment of the Panel.
Illicit financial outflows constitute a major source of resource leakage from the continent draining foreign exchange reserves, reducing tax collection, dwindling investment inflows, and worsening poverty in Africa. The methods and channels of illicit financial outflows are many and varied including tax havens and secrecy jurisdictions, over-invoicing, under-pricing, and different money laundering strategies. This source of resource outflows is far bigger and higher in terms of scale and magnitude than the normal corruption channels, which are focused upon globally.
The panel will amongst others, determine the nature, pattern, scope and channels of illicit financial outflows from the continent; sensitize African governments, citizens, policy makers, political leaders and development partners to the problem; mobilize support for putting in place rules, regulations, and policies to curb illicit financial outflows; and influence national, regional and international policies and programmes on addressing the problem of illicit financial outflows from Africa.
The Panel at its first working session noted as follows:
§ Illicit financial flows are a major development challenge to Africa, which retards the progress of African countries;
§ There is need to upscale the policy research work on the subject matter especially from an African perspective;
§ Policy advocacy constitutes a major part of the work of the panel, which would prioritized in its work;
§ Coalition building and partnership from within and outside the continent is central to the success of the work of the Panel;
1. A communication strategy is to be developed by the Panel for the outreach and communication of its work;
2. A dedicated website on illicit financial outflows from Africa is to be established;
3. The Technical Committee based in ECA will undertake more technical work on the nature, scope, dimensions and impact on development of illicit financial flows from Africa and facilitate detailed documentation on the subject matter to be made available to the HLP;
4. The ECA is to report to the Conference of Ministers of Finance, Economic Development and Planning in March 2012 on the establishment of the Panel;
5. The HLP to meet in the next two months (Mid-April 2012) to review progress on technical work and the communication strategy of the Panel and also to meet in Mid-July 2012 to review the impact assessment study on illicit financial flows from Africa;
The Chair of the Panel, H.E. former President Thabo Mbeki thanked all members of the panel and affirmed their commitment and dedication in ensuring that the panel squarely addresses the problem of illicit financial flows from Africa.