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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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West Africa: Regional context and susceptibility to criminal economies

This chapter reviews the key characteristics of the West African region that are relevant both to understanding the growth of criminal economies, and their interactions with citizens and the state. These issues include the development and demographic status of West African countries, and the dynamics of the region’s economy and trade. The chapter provides an overview of the region’s governance and democracy, and highlights salient features of its peace and security, or instability. Taken together, these characteristics impact on the way criminality develops in the region. Consequently, they are relevant for developing responses to criminality and illicit financial flows, and working to mitigate the impact of these factors on development.

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