Illicit Trade Linked to $130M In Losses

A report released by a U.S. financial research firm today says that Cambodia lost an average of $133 million per year between 2002 and 2011 through crimes such as import and export tax evasion, illegal movements of money and smuggling.

The report, released by Global Financial Integrity and entitled “Illicit Financial Flows from Developing Countries: 2002-2011,” estimates that the total amount of illicit outflows from developing countries in 2011 alone was about 10 times the amount of aid money disbursed globally in the same year.

“The US$946.7 billion of illicit outflows lost in 2011 is a 13.7 percent uptick from 2010—which saw developing countries hemorrhage US$832.4 billion—and a dramatic increase from 2002, when illicit outflows totaled just US$270.3 billion,” a press briefing for the report says.

“The study estimates the developing world lost a total of US$5.9 trillion over the decade spanning 2002 to 2011.”

“Poor countries have hemorrhaged nearly a trillion dollars from their economies in 2011 that could have been invested in local businesses, healthcare, education, or infrastructure. This is nearly a trillion dollars that could have been used to help pull people out of poverty and save lives,” one of the report’s co-authors, Brian LeBlanc, is quoted as saying.

The report represents the most up-to-date data on illicit outflows from developing countries.

Transparency International last week released its annual Corruption Perceptions Index, which ranked Cambodia as the 17th most corrupt country in the world.

Transparency International Cambodia executive director Preap Kol said that while his organization has not exhaustively investigated corruption at the country’s borders, large-scale losses of money through illicit trade would not be surprising given the lax governance of trade.

“Cambodia is not immune to illegal and illicit trade, and within Southeast Asia, people could easily guess that Cambodia attracts such practices because of its weak rule of law and monitoring of such illicit acts,” Mr. Kol said.

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