Kar, Dev , Cartwright-Smith, and Devon Hollingshead, Ann
The Absorption of Illicit Financial Flows from Developing Countries: 2002-2006
- New York Global Financial Intergrity 2006
A recent study by Kar and Cartwright-Smith (2008) found that over the period 2002 to 2006, illicit financial flows from developing countries increased from US$372 to US$859 billion. The purpose of this paper is to link these outflows with major points of absorption consisting of offshore financial centers and developed country banks. While offshore centers have recently attracted media attention regarding their lack of transparency, the paper finds that large data gaps exist for banks as well. These gaps make it difficult to analyze the absorption of illicit funds, defined as the change in private sector deposits of developing countries in banks and offshore centers. The paper argues that both need to greatly improve the transparency of their operations. Regular reporting of detailed deposit data by sector, maturity, and country of residence of deposit holder would close many of the data gaps identified in this paper and allow for a more robust analysis of the absorption of illicit flows from developing countries. Given data limitations, certain assumptions had to be made regarding the behavior of illicit flows and investments.