Illicit Financial Flows (IFFs) impact a country’s economic and social development in a myriad of ways. Undocumented fights of wealth to and from - as well as within - a country have severe repercussions on government revenues, wealth that could otherwise be invested in public spending and other forms of economic and social reforms. Illicit financial flows, particularly those related to organised crime, also withdraw funds from the legitimate economy and may force the State to divert more resources to prevent and respond to criminal activity or to treat or compensate victims. The drain on resources and tax revenues caused by IFFs blocks the expansion of basic social services and infrastructure programs that are targeted at improving the wellbeing and capacities of all citizens, in particular, the very poor.
IFFs in many developing countries mean fewer hospitals, schools, police, roads and job opportunities, as well as lower pensions . It is for these reasons that States must place significantly higher priority on seizing and confiscating illicitly-obtained assets, and to channel such recovered assets to high-priority development needs.
New paradigms and policies to counter IFFs must be established to produce an unbroken chain of work from tracing, freezing, seizure, confiscation and recovery of illicitly-obtained assets, through transparent management and liquidation of such assets, to distribution of the proceeds to high-priority development needs. It is this mechanism and paradigm that will enable countries to capture billions in assets and to directly channel them into, for example, more schools, hospitals, community clinics and infrastructure, as well as the much-needed payment of salaries for teachers, nurses and doctors. Such policies also can enable States to significantly reduce youth unemployment. All of these are key factors to a country’s development.
In light of the above, the European Union and the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI) are proud to launch a series of studies on Illicit Financial Flows and Asset Recovery. These studies shed light on the significant damage being caused to States as a result of unchecked IFFs, and on the significant value of prioritising the capture of illicitly-obtained assets linked to such IFFs. The EU and UNICRI are committed to providing key support and expertise needed by States to more effectively respond to IFFs. In creating and implementing more effective responses, many of which are identified in the recommendations of these reports, States will be able to weaken the influence of organised crime, as well as inject significantly greater funding into high-priority development needs.
Lawrence Meredith, Director for Neighbourhood East DG NEAR
Antonia Marie De Meo, Director of UNICRI
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