Detecting and countering illicit financial flows

This project aims to measure and monitor illicit financial flows in the Global South, study their negative impacts, and evaluate policies for counteracting them.

While countries in the Global South have increased their tax revenues in the last decades, overall revenues remain low compared to advanced economies both in absolute and relative terms. This is a key challenge to development, as provision of crucial public services, such as education, healthcare, and infrastructure, rely on states having money to spend.

This project seeks to address the challenge of illicit financial flows by investigating the magnitude of these flows, the channels through which they flow, and the policy responses that may dampen the flows. The aim is to provide knowledge for the governments of developing countries that supports policies which will increase the revenue collection.

The project will mobilize high-profile academics in the field to discuss knowledge gaps and to set direction for future research. Key outputs will include 16 research papers, as well as recommendations for international organizations and selected individual countries based on the insights generated by the research papers.

Key questions
  • What is the stock of hidden wealth?
  • What is the extent of international corporate tax avoidance?
  • What can be learnt from audit information and legal cases in estimating IFFs?
  • What can be learnt from exploiting leaks to link IFFs and individuals?
  • What is the effect of anti-IFF initiatives? Which anti-IFF initiatives actually work?
  • What is the broader cost of IFFs?
Researchers' network 

As part of the project, we bring together an informal network of leading international researchers working on the topic of international tax and illicit financial flows. 

Watch this space

All papers, events, briefs, blog posts, and opportunities to engage relating to the project will be available on this webpage.

UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

The research will address SDG 16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions and SDG 17: Partnerships for the goals. Illicit financial flows hamper sustainable development by undermining institutions (SDG 16.4) and domestic revenue mobilization (SDG 17.1). The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development recognizes these risks and targets ‘By 2030, to significantly reduce illicit financial flows’.