India third as BRICS leads the way in stashing off black money

16 Dec 2014


There may be some rationale apart from politics for India's continuing pursuit of illicit money stashed abroad – independent think-tank Global Financial Integrity (GFI) has ranked the country third globally in this area, with an estimated $94.76 billion (nearly Rs6,00,000 crore) of 'black' money outflows in 2012.

The cumulative illicit money moving out of the country over a 10-year period from 2003 to 2012 has risen to $439.59 billion (Rs28 lakh crore).

Overall, the BRICS grouping of developing nations is leading the flight of illicit capital, according to data in the report released on Monday.

According to GFI's latest estimates, a record $991 billion was siphoned off in 2012 from the world's developing economies, an increase of almost 5 per cent from just a year earlier in 2011.

Illicit capital incorporates such things as mis-invoicing of trade whereby exports and imports are booked at different values to avoid taxes or to hide large transfers of money.

The report said that between 2003 and 2012, $6.6 trillion was moved by crooked means out of the so-called developing economies, finding its way to bank accounts in the developed world or far-flung tax havens.

Of that total, about $3 trillion or almost half was diverted from the BRICS group comprising Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

China, the world's second biggest economy, led the dubious way with an estimated $1.25 trillion leaving its borders illegally over the course of the decade.

Russia is the second-biggest exporter of illicit money while India is third, Brazil seventh and South Africa is 12th, according to the report.

"There are questions about the commitment to financial transparency among the BRICS consortia, especially among some of the bigger members," GFI President Raymond Baker told Reuters in an interview.

Overall, the amount of capital spirited out of the world's developing countries in 2012 was 1.3 times higher than the amount of foreign direct investment they received that year and topped aid flows by over a thousand-fold.

Trade mis-invoicing remained the biggest channel for illegally moving capital offshore, accounting for almost 78 percent of illicit flows.

Some development economists have said sub-Saharan Africa, where illicit cash outflows equal about 5.5 per cent of its GDP, is, contrary to popular belief, actually a net exporter of capital to the rest of the world because of such activities.

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