Ideas to Action:

Independent research for global prosperity

Tag: Illicit Finance

 

The Response to De-Risking: Progress Made, Some Challenges Remain

In November 2015, CGD published a report titled Unintended Consequences of Anti–Money Laundering Policies for Poor Countries. Today we release a follow-up to that report. Policy Responses to De-risking: Progress Report on the CGD Working Group’s 2015 Recommendations takes stock of accomplishments to date, notes where work remains, and recommends concrete actions for international institutions, governments, banks, and others to continue addressing de-risking.

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In November 2015, CGD published the report Unintended Consequences of Anti–Money Laundering Policies for Poor Countries, which warned that efforts to curb illicit finance were producing significant adverse side effects. This new report takes stock of what has been accomplished as well as what remains to be done.

The Proposed SDG Indicator on Illicit Financial Flows Risks Conflating Ordinary Business and Dirty Money

“Illicit financial flows” means dirty money crossing borders. It is an umbrella term which covers diverse actors including organised crime groups, business people making bribes, political leaders engaging in grand corruption, and major tax evaders hiding undeclared wealth. What they all have in common is that what they are doing is illegal (although they may be getting away with it), and they often use opaque international networks of legal entities, bank accounts, and property holdings to facilitate and store ill-gotten gains. There is a clear development case for rich countries to act to prevent their financial systems being used as havens for illicit financial flows that harm developing countries.

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What Advice Would You Give to Penny Mordaunt on Combating Illicit Financial Flows?

London is one of the world’s premier destinations for kleptocrats and corrupt oligarchs seeking to launder ill-gotten gains into property, investments, private school fees and influence. There is no reliable estimate of the total value of laundered funds that impacts on the UK. However the National Assessment of Serious Organised Crime says there is “a realistic possibility the scale of money laundering impacting the UK annually is in the hundreds of billions of pounds” (this includes both domestic and international sources). 

The Mongolian Millions: What Can We Learn from the Making of a Multinational Tax Avoidance Scandal?

Earlier this year, The Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations (“SOMO”; a Dutch NGO) issued a report about an international mining company they said had avoided paying $232 million USD in taxes in Mongolia. The Oyu Tolgoi mine is considered a big deal in Mongolia and has been subject to lengthy negotiations on how to split the risks, costs, and profits of the project between the company and the government. While this question is of primary interest to the people of Mongolia, I think that delving into the detail of individual cases like this is also important for clarifying the broader debates and understanding of tax issues.

 

Pinning Down Illicit Financial Flows: Why Definitions Matter

The SDGs include a target to “significantly reduce illicit financial and arms flows, strengthen the recovery and return of stolen assets and combat all forms of organised crime”. However, there is no globally agreed upon definition for “illicit financial flows.” My new CGD paper looks at why there is so much disagreement and confusion over this term.

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Illicit financial flows (IFFs) connected with corruption, crime, and tax evasion are an issue of increasing concern. However, there is not yet a clear consensus on how to define illicit financial flows, and even less on how to measure them.

Can Robots Save Banks? RegTech’s Potential to Solve De-Risking

Policies put in place to counter financial crimes have unfortunately had a chilling effect on banks’ willingness to do business in markets perceived to be risky—due in part to the high price of compliance. Even as changes are being made to address this problem, financial institutions are developing solutions in the form of new cutting-edge technologies to help them comply better and faster with anti-money laundering regulations.

Vijaya Ramachandran and Jim Woodsome
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Even while policy solutions to address de-risking are being implemented, new technologies have emerged to address de-risking by increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of AML/CFT compliance by financial institutions.

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