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Efficient, resilient, and accountable governance systems are essential to successfully manage natural resources, provide public services, foster trade, attract private investment, and manage aid relationships. Corruption and secrecy are often at odds with such goals. Illicit financial flows, for example, undermine development and governance while secrecy in extractive industries can squander a nation’s wealth and weaken the social contract.
CGD’s work in this area focuses on contact transparency, tax evasion and avoidance, efforts to combat money laundering and terrorism financing, and the negative effects they can have on remittance flows and international security.
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Governments of mining countries are vulnerable to investors manipulating transfer prices as a means of avoiding paying taxes. This paper looks at whether special practices in the oil sector that provide materially greater protection against transfer pricing risk could be applied to hard rock minerals. These are (1) administrative pricing, where government, rather than the taxpayer sets the price for crude oil; and (2) the no-profit rule, which prevents joint venture partners from charging a profit mark-up on the cost of providing goods and services to the group.
CGD and Brookings recently co-hosted Former Finance Minister of Nigeria and Distinguished Fellow Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala to discuss her new book, Fighting Corruption is Dangerous: The Story Behind the Headlines. The book is part memoir, part how-to, as she draws on her years of experience as Nigeria’s Finance Minister to describe the dangers of fighting corruption and how best to do it. I drew four main takeaways from our conversation.
Pascale Hélène Dubois will discuss the global impact of World Bank investigation and prevention activities and then join a panel with Kathrin Frauscher, Deputy and Program Director, Open Contracting Partnership and Hasan Tuluy, Partnership for Transparency Board Director, former World Bank Vice President, to dive deeper into what more can be done at the World Bank and other international institutions to combat corruption.
Corruption can siphon desperately needed resources away from development, but as some anti-corruption advocates have found, taking on vested interests can come at a great personal risk to their livelihoods—or even their lives. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala’s new book, Fighting Corruption Is Dangerous: The Story Behind the Headlines, draws on her years as Nigeria’s Finance Minister to provide practical lessons on the difficult, sometimes-dangerous, always-necessary work of fighting graft and corruption.
Earlier this year, The Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations (“SOMO”; a Dutch NGO) issued a report about an international mining company they said had avoided paying $232 million USD in taxes in Mongolia. The Oyu Tolgoi mine is considered a big deal in Mongolia and has been subject to lengthy negotiations on how to split the risks, costs, and profits of the project between the company and the government. While this question is of primary interest to the people of Mongolia, I think that delving into the detail of individual cases like this is also important for clarifying the broader debates and understanding of tax issues.
The SDGs include a target to “significantly reduce illicit financial and arms flows, strengthen the recovery and return of stolen assets and combat all forms of organised crime”. However, there is no globally agreed upon definition for “illicit financial flows.” My new CGD paper looks at why there is so much disagreement and confusion over this term.
Illicit financial flows (IFFs) connected with corruption, crime, and tax evasion are an issue of increasing concern. However, there is not yet a clear consensus on how to define illicit financial flows, and even less on how to measure them.