Publications

Illicit Financial Flows

Illicit Trade and Development Challenges in West Africa

Available from October 31, 2017

book

This report shows how criminal economies and illicit financial flows through and within West Africa affect people’s lives. It goes beyond the traditional analysis of illicit financial flows, which focuses on the value of monetary flows. The report exposes the ways in which criminal and illicit activities and resulting illicit financial flows damage governance, the economy, development and security. It presents case studies based on concrete examples from West Africa of human trafficking, drug smuggling, counterfeit goods, gold mining and terrorism financing. It identifies networks and drivers – in the region or elsewhere – that allow these criminal economies to thrive, by feeding and facilitating these activities and the circulation of illicitly-obtained revenue. It also examines the impacts on local communities, such as changes in wealth distribution, power dynamics and the degree to which illicit money undermines social organisation.

This book proposes a policy framework for both source and destination countries of illicit flows that looks beyond the concerns of developed countries to enhance development prospects at the local level and respond to the needs of the most vulnerable stakeholders. Combating criminal economies and preventing illicit financial flows will require sustained partnerships between producing and consuming countries. West Africa cannot be expected to address these challenges alone.