June 28, 2007
One-Half Trillion Dollars in Illicit Funds Exit Developing World Annually, Research Shows
An Estimated $250 Billion Lands in the United States
WASHINGTON, DC – Global Financial Integrity (GFI) announced today that it will lead a nationwide campaign to limit the ability of U.S. financial institutions to accept illicit funds for deposit from overseas clients. An estimated $1 trillion, which are illegally earned, transferred or utilized, are spirited across borders annually. Of this, $500 billion exits developing economies and up to half that amount ends up in American banks or other dollar denominated accounts. “This outflow of capital from developing nations constitutes the most damaging economic condition hurting the poor today,” said GFI Director Raymond Baker.
Currently, it is legal for U.S. financial institutions to accept deposits of funds from abroad that were attained from alien smuggling, sexual exploitation of children, extortion and many other activities which, if they were committed in the U.S., would be felonies. The receipt of such funds by U.S. financial institutions encourages crime, undermines development efforts and damages global stability. “It is not enough to merely point an accusing finger at corrupt officials, tax evaders and criminals in the annual trillion-dollar illicit-money equation,” Baker noted. “The recipient side of the equation must be highlighted as well.”
The campaign seeks statutory changes that will make the current list of “specified unlawful activities” which are crimes associated with domestic money laundering charges applicable to criminal activities that occur outside U.S. borders. If Congress makes such a change American financial institutions would be prohibited from accepting funds derived from those activities. “In order to foster honest government and reputable commerce in both developing nations and western countries, the whole of the illicit financial flow problem must be addressed, with the United States taking the lead,” Baker said.
Global Financial Integrity – A Resource for Journalists
In addition to the campaign, GFI works to curtail illegal cross-border financial flows in order to positively impact development efforts worldwide. Program Director Raymond Baker, an internationally respected authority on corruption, money laundering and growth issues in developing and transitional economies and, Managing Director Tom Cardamone, a long-time policy advocate, are available to speak about money laundering, tax havens, illicit financial flows, capital flight, shell corporations, terrorist financing, transfer pricing, FinCEN, FATF and related issues.
For more information see the GFI website: www.gfip.org.
Global Financial Integrity – Background
GFI was launched in September 2006 as a logical extension of Raymond Baker’s book, titled “Capitalism’s Achilles Heel: Dirty Money and How to Renew the Free-Market System.” Illicit capital flows undermine the goals of the World Bank and other lending institutions, strip developing nations of critical resources, and contribute to failed states. Despite massive amounts of foreign aid streaming into poor nations and transitional economies, many countries fail to develop to the point of no longer needing aid. Indeed, for every $1 poor nations receive in foreign aid, an estimated $10 in illicit money flows abroad.