Will Snell ■ World Bank roundtable: illicit financial flows


Alex Cobham, Chief Executive of the Tax Justice Network, will be taking part in a roundtable discussion at the World Bank in Washington DC on 6 December about illicit financial flows. Details are above. Participants from outside the World Bank are welcome to join by Webex (meeting number and password above; you can also call in to one of these phone numbers using the meeting number as the access code; please RSVP).


From the LuxLeaks to the Paradise Papers, by way of the Panama Papers, revelations about the exploitation of financial secrecy have provided an ongoing backdrop to international politics in the last decade. Illicit financial flows (IFF) is an umbrella term which has succeeded in uniting a broad range of related development concerns, from the tax abuses of multinational companies and high net-worth individuals, to grand corruption and the laundering of the proceeds of criminal markets. The resulting consensus for action drove target 16.4 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a global commitment to reduce IFF. A process is now underway to develop technically-robust indicators to ensure national-level accountability for the financial secrecy that drives these corrupt and criminal behaviors.


This roundtable will explore the political emergence of the IFF agenda, the definitional and technical aspects, and the leading estimates and measures, including the proposed SDG indicators.



Alex Cobham (@alexcobham) is a development economist and chief executive at the Tax Justice Network. He previously held research and policy roles with the Center for Global Development, international NGOs, and at the University of Oxford; and has consulted widely, including for the UNCTAD, UNECA, DFID and the World Bank. Alex’s research has focused on the scale of revenue losses from tax avoidance; on comparative international measures of ‘tax haven’ secrecy; and on horizontal and vertical inequalities. The Tax Justice Network is an expert network of accountants, economists, lawyers and many others in professional practice, academia and civil society. Since its formal establishment in 2003, the Tax Justice Network has worked to bring issues of tax avoidance, tax evasion and other abuses of financial secrecy from the margins to the centre of the global policy agenda.

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