An estimated Sh1.2 trillion ($15 billion) is illicitly moved each year out of Africa to the developed nations, according to a panel chaired by former South African President Thabo Mbeki.
The High-Level Panel on Illicit Financial flows from Africa concluded its third meeting in Nairobi on Wednesday, challenging African countries to find ways to stop the money from being illegally moved out of the continent.
“This problem (illicit flow of funds) is very serious. We are engaging with governments across the continent to come up with ways to stop it,” Mr Mbeki told a Press conference at Inter-Continental Hotel in Nairobi, a day after meeting President Kibaki.
Mr Mbeki said President Kibaki pledged support for new ways to fight illicit money. “We held discussions with President Kibaki and he promised us his government’s support in the fight against this problem,” he said.
The panel also met senior government officials, including Foreign Affairs minister Sam Ongeri, Finance permanent secretary Joseph Kinyua as well as Central Bank and Kenya Revenue Authority officials.
Civil society leaders also shared with the team their experiences and ways to deal with the illegal transfers. Mr Mbeki said his team sought ideas from everyone as it compiled a set of recommendations to be forwarded to governments.
President Kibaki said in a statement sent to newsrooms that the government was committed to stopping the flow of the illicit money in the country.
The revelation comes just weeks after a report by the Swiss National Bank, the Central Bank of Switzerland, said Kenyans had stashed away Sh72 billion (818 million Swiss francs) in Swiss banks. (READ: State told to prove fraud in Swiss cash)
Mr Mbeki said multinational corporations were the top culprits as they had the financial muscles to take part in the prohibited business.
“Multinational corporations are the only ones that can move $15 billion, not those with $5,” he said as he praised African governments for showing the will to curb the menace blamed for slow pace in development.
Africa’s finance ministers formed the panel and tasked the retired president with finding the sources of the money and ways the money was channelled to the recipient countries.
Mr Mbeki blamed “corrupt practices in the public and private sectors” saying they promoted the illicit movement.
The team’s next meeting will be in Tunis as it traverses the continent in search of ways to stop the money that would otherwise have been used for development in the continent still in need of funds to finance development programmes.