Every year, roughly $1 trillion flows illegally out of developing and emerging economies due to crime, corruption, and tax evasion. This amount is more than these countries receive in foreign direct investment and foreign aid combined.
This week, a new report was released that highlights the latest data available on this “hot” money. Assembled by Global Financial Integrity, a research and advisory organization based in Washington, DC, the report details illicit financial flows of money from developing countries using the latest information available, which is up until the end of 2013.
The cumulative amount of this “hot money” coming out of developing countries totaled just over $7.8 trillion between 2004 and 2013. On an annual basis, it breached the $1 trillion mark each of the last three years of data available, which is good for a growth rate of 6.5% rate annually.
In Asia, illicit financial outflows are growing even quicker at an 8.6% clip. It’s also on the continent that five of the ten largest source economies for these flows can be found, including the largest offender, which is Mainland China.
How does this “hot” money leave these countries? Global Financial Integrity has calculated that 83% of illicit financial flows are due to what it calls “trade misinvoicing”.
It’s defined as the following:
The misinvoicing of trade is accomplished by misstating the value or volume of an export or import on a customs invoice. Trade misinvoicing is a form of trade-based money laundering made possible by the fact that trading partners write their own trade documents, or arrange to have the documents prepared in a third country (typically a tax haven), a method known as re-invoicing. Fraudulent manipulation of the price, quantity, or quality of a good or service on an invoice allows criminals, corrupt government officials, and commercial tax evaders to shift vast amounts of money across international borders quickly, easily, and nearly always undetected.
Trade misinvoicing accounted for an average of $654.7 billion per year of lost trade in developing markets over the data set covered by the report.