High Level Panel on Illicit Financial Flows from Africa

SouthViews No. 223, 14 July 2021

Financial integrity for sustainable development: Importance of developing country joint action on tax, corruption and money-laundering 

By Dr. Ibrahim Mayaki

Countries are beginning to realize that the landmark agreement on the Sustainable Development Goals will be unrealized if financing is not found for the agenda. Much of that financing can be found if illicit financial flows are stopped. In March 2020, the Presidents of the United Nations General Assembly and Economic and Social Council convened a High-Level Panel on International Financial Accountability, Transparency and Integrity for Achieving the 2030 Agenda (FACTI Panel) to review global cooperation and recommend further actions by the international community as a contribution. Dr. Ibrahim Mayaki, the Co-Chair of the FACTI Panel, outlines the measures that the FACTI Panel recommended to combat tax abuse, corruption and money-laundering. He emphasizes the importance of developing countries taking a leading role in proposing solutions, and the value of inclusive international institutions. The text below is based on remarks that were made at a briefing to the Group of 77 and China in Geneva in April 2021, jointly organized by the FACTI Panel Secretariat and the South Centre. The Panel’s full report can be read at: http://www.factipanel.org/report.

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Report by the South Centre Tax Initiative’s Developing Country Expert Group, August 2020

Assessment of the Two-Pillar Approach to Address the Tax Challenges Arising from the Digitalization of the Economy

An Outline of Positions Favourable to Developing Countries

Report by the South Centre Tax Initiative’s Developing Country Expert Group

Irene Ovonji-Odida, Veronica Grondona, Samuel Victor Makwe

This report is written primarily for developing country negotiators in the Inclusive Framework and accordingly contains a technical assessment of Pillars One and Two. The aim is to discuss the positions and principles which can inform the negotiations in developing countries’ best interests. However, it is also written for a larger audience, particularly diplomats involved in financing for development discussions and international trade rule making, so as to sensitise them to the nuances of the ongoing discussion on the taxation of the digitized economy. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and a devastating economic downturn, it is more important than ever to ensure that developing countries obtain their due taxing rights. This report is an initial contribution in that direction.

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Tax Cooperation Policy Brief 11, February 2020

The Role of South-South Cooperation in Combatting Illicit Financial Flows

By Manuel F Montes

Developing countries bear the brunt of costs from illicit financial flows (IFFs). These losses are the result of the facilities that the global system provides transnational companies, operating in multiple tax jurisdictions, to move their profits to favorable locations. International cooperation has been seen to be a key ingredient in restricting IFFs. However, a difference in interests in the treatment of many types of transactions between developed and developing countries is an obstacle to a fast solution of the problem. Developing countries must seek to seize the initiative to restrict their losses from IFFs. They can deploy various joint and concerted actions, within the umbrella of the principles of South-South cooperation for this purpose.

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Book by the South Centre, 2019

International Tax Cooperation: Perspectives from the Global South

About the Book:

A substantive reform of the global tax system involving a variety of multilateral platforms is underway.  The question is not whether the tax standards and practices will change, but in which direction.

Developing countries have long sought changes in rules, standards and procedures shaping the allocation of taxing rights among sovereign states. In the wake of the 2008-2010 Great Recession, developed country governments engaged in massive public sector layoffs and channeling enormous public resources to bail out large financial companies and their wealthy investors.  The Panama Papers, the Paradise Papers, the Lux Leaks became household words in the United States and Europe because of the journalistic coverage.  Other scandals, such as the “cum/ex” fraud in Germany involving a loophole in the taxing of dividend receipts were less known but just as materially significant.  Tax reform, particularly as it applied to the treatment of corporations working in multiple tax jurisdictions, thus became not only a problem of developing countries but an issue of global concern.

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Statement, September 2019

South Centre Statement to the United Nations High Level Dialogue on Financing for Development

Four years after its adoption, Agenda 2030, “Transforming Our World,” the United Nations’ (UN) most recent and most ambitious development agenda, is off-track. Various estimates of the spending needed to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) range from $1 to $3 trillion. Domestically mobilized resources are critical to achieve these goals. A main source of the inadequate scale of public revenues are shortfalls in corporate tax collection, which are largely explained by international corporations hosted by or doing businesses in developing countries that take advantage of facilities offered by the international tax standards and practices to avoid full payment of taxes in those countries. A substantive global reform process involving a variety of multilateral platforms is underway.  The question is not whether the system of global tax standards and practices will change, but in what direction it will change.  Drawing lessons from the developing country context will be critical if the ongoing process of global tax reform will benefit developing countries and achieve substantial success in generating the income needed to effectively attain the SDGs.

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Tax Cooperation Policy Brief 6, January 2019

Illicit Financial Flows: Conceptual and Practical Issues

By Hon. Irene Ovonji-Odida and Algresia Akwi-Ogojo

The issue of illicit financial flows (IFFs) is of great significance for many countries looking to mobilize domestic resources for achieving their development goals. The High Level Panel on Illicit Financial Flows from Africa, led by H.E. Thabo Mbeki, brought the issue into the global spotlight, notably since the release of exposés like the ‘Panama Papers’. This policy brief elaborates on the conceptual underpinnings of IFFs, its sources and the development costs they generate. Building on the report of the High Level Panel, it provides recommendations to stem IFFs from developing countries.

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