Stealing Africa, a documentary in the series Why Poverty that focuses on the case of the international mining giant Glencore in Zambia, is a must-watch for anyone concerned with domestic resource mobilization, global poverty, the resource curse, or illicit financial flows. These topics mesh together to one simple idea: money that should be staying in Africa’s poorest nations is in fact fleeing at an astounding rate, and something needs to be done about it.
Shruti Shah of Transparency International-USA wrote a great op-ed on Devex last week. Ms. Shah connects the dots between the crimes committed at HSBC, the influx of money to the United States from kleptocrats like Teodorin Obiang, and the hundreds of thousands of anonymous shell corporations created every year in the United States. The result? Individuals are able to use the United States and its institutions to, “export, launder and conceal ill-gotten gains” derived from corruption.
Satirist Stephen Colbert dismantled HSBC on his show last night. He criticizes both HSBC for helping to launder tremendous amounts of drug money, helping to finance murder, and the U.S. government for treating them as “Too Big to Jail.” Below are two videos: the first shows Colbert directly addressing HSBC, and the second is an interview with Rolling Stone’s Matt Taibbi on the scandal.
We’re very excited to share with you the newly-available documentary We’re Not Broke. Many multinational corporations in the United States pay a 0% tax rate. In a few cases, major brand-name corporations paid a negative tax rate in 2010–meaning they received a check from the IRS, instead of paying in.
Heather Lowe, Director of Government Affairs at Global Financial Integrity and the Task Force, is writing a serious of posts here on the horrible crimes that HSBC has admitted to as part of its deferred prosecution agreement with the U.S. government. No one will go to jail from HSBC for these crimes.
Task Force member Tax Justice Network and the Centre of Investigative Journalism at City University, London are offering journalists primarily from the developing world training in illicit finance, financial secrecy and asset recovery. Travel and accommodation costs in some cases will be significantly subsidised. Classes will take place from March 19th to March 23rd in London. Instruction will take place in English.
Sometimes, it is easy to lose sight of the big picture when talking about illicit financial flows. We either spend time talking and reading about big numbers–the total amount of money flowing out of countries–or individual events, like the horrible things facilitated by HSBC. Today, Task Force and Global Financial Integrity Director Raymond Baker took a step back and discussed the big-picture implications of illicit financial flows, and what they do to a society, in the Huffington Post.
We’ve covered Greece quite a bit here on the Task Force blog. Tax evasion and corruption are both endemic in Greece, and they have played no small part in the current financial crisis in both Greece and Europe. Wealthy Greeks have moved significant amounts of money overseas to tax havens like Switzerland.
Task Force member Global Financial Integrity released their newest report on illicit financial flows from the developing world last night. The report found that $5.86 trillion left the developing world due to crime, corruption, and tax evasion from 2001-2010, $859 billion in 2012 alone. The report uses a new, broader, methodology to estimate illicit financial flows, and the numbers should be considered very conservative. They also set up a very cool Explore page if you would like to delve deeper into the data.
Reuters Financial Blogger Felix Salmon today defended the decision by the United States to not prosecute individuals at HSBC for money laundering violations.
This thought-provoking documentary from Exposure looks at the British Bribery Act and overseas bribery by British companies. In particular, it focuses on extractive industry companies in Nigeria. The documentary quotes Task Force member Global Witness’s Simon Taylor, and highlights the push for a Dodd-Frank 1504-style transparency law for European companies.
Explaining the 2012 Corruption Perceptions Index from Transparency International