Maputo — Mozambican President Armando Guebuza on Thursday received in Maputo former South African President Thabo Mbeki, in his capacity as chairperson of the High Level Panel on Illicit Financial Flows from Africa, set up by the UN Economic Commission on Africa (ECA) and the African Union.
The Panel is meeting in Maputo on Thursday and Friday, and Mbeki briefed Guebuza on its work. Speaking to reporters, Mbeki said that illicit financial flows are costing Africa about 50 billion US dollars a year. Huge sums of money that could be used in development and poverty reduction are leaving the continent instead.
“It is important that we fight this evil together so that Africa can use the money to solve its poverty and development problems”, said Mbeki.
He said that Guebuza had expressed the total willingness of the Mozambican government to provide all possible cooperation so that panel's mission is crowned with success.
He added that the panel also hopes to meet with other members of the government, and with representatives of the police, the customs service, the business sector and civil society.
The term “illicit financial flows” refers to money laundering, transfer pricing, undocumented commercial transactions and criminal activities characterized by over pricing, tax evasion and false declarations.
As the panel noted when it was established in February 2012, a key role in sucking money out of African countries is played by international tax havens and secrecy jurisdictions, which make it possible to create and operate shell companies, anonymous trust accounts, and fake charitable foundations.
The Panel has already worked in several other countries, including Nigeria, Algeria and Zambia, and intends to publish a report on illicit financial flows in March 2014.