The New Times (Kigali)

African Lawyers to Discuss Assets ?Stolen? By Leaders

Africa's top Bar association, the Pan African Lawyers Union, will this month hold its triennial general assembly with a special focus on the theme, "Illicit Financial Flows from Africa: Sealing the leaks, Management and Repatriation of Frozen Assets" in Tunis, Tunisia from 21- 24.

The meeting will be officially opened by host president, Mohamed Moncef Marzouki.

The conference is part of continent-wide efforts to fight corruption by turning attention to the illicit financial flows from Africa to foreign banks and international financial institutions.

Palu chief executive Donald Deya estimates that up to $50b worth of assets is swindled from Africa annually.

"This is approximately double the official development assistance (ODA) that Africa receives," Deya said. "This atmosphere is enabled by some 60 international tax havens and secrecy jurisdictions that facilitate the creation and operation of millions of disguised corporations, shell companies, anonymous trust accounts, and fake charitable foundations."

Such outflows undermine the rule of law, stifle trade and worsen macroeconomic conditions. Taking prompt action to curtail illicit financial outflows from Africa will provide a major source of funds for development programmes in the continent.

"It is of utmost importance that we work to put in place a legal framework, with transparent mechanisms, for the handling of financial transactions and the management of frozen assets," Deya said.

Declarations

The conference is being organised in partnership with the African Development Bank, whose President, Dr Donald Kaberuka, will address the opening ceremony.

Previously, AfDB partnered with Palu in training African lawyers, both in the private and public sectors, in identifying and tackling graft on the continent.

The lawyers will formulate and adopt a declaration on illicit financial flows from Africa and form a committee of experts to continue working on the issue.

The two-day conference is the second continent-wide effort by Palu to tackle corruption, which is one of the main scourges afflicting Africa.

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