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Illicit Financial Flows

The Economy of Illicit Trade in West Africa

image of Illicit Financial Flows

This report is a first step towards building a qualitative understanding of the way illicit or criminal activities interact with the economy, security and development of West African states. Going beyond a traditional analysis of illicit financial flows (IFFs), which typically emphasises the scale of monetary flows, the report examines the nature of thirteen overlapping, and oftentimes mutually reinforcing, criminal and illicit economies, with a view to identify their resulting financial flows and development linkages. In taking this approach, this report identifies the networks and drivers that allow these criminal economies to thrive, with a particular emphasis on the actors and incentives behind them. As a conclusion to this work, this report proposes a series of policy considerations to assist countries to prioritise and focus their responses to reduce the development impacts of IFFs. Resolving the problem of IFFs requires responding to underlying development challenges, and tackling all parts of the problem in source, transit and destination countries.

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Overview

The negative impact of illicit financial flows (IFFs) on development goals increasingly features on international political agendas. This publication seeks to build evidence on IFFs and their impact, by looking at the relationship between criminal and illicit economies, and their generated revenue in West Africa. The report moves beyond traditional efforts to measure IFFs towards developing a qualitative understanding of how these activities affect the economy, governance, development and human security. It proposes a framework for analysing the diverse ways in which these economies and IFFs threaten development and human security for West African citizens and states. It concludes with recommendations to develop an integrated response to these activities and the networks that perpetuate them, which addresses the enabling environment and seeks to mitigate their impacts on the most vulnerable populations.

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