Illicit Financial Flows from Developing Countries: 2002-2011

A December 2013 Report from Global Financial Integrity


Overview (Explore the Data | Explaining the Findings)


PDF Download Full Report [High-Res] (3.1 MB)

PDF Download Full Report [Low-Res] (1.5 MB)

PDF Download Executive Summary [Low-Res] (61 KB)

PDF Download Abstract [Low-Res] (50 KB)

PDF Download Raymond Baker Foreword [Low-Res] (50 KB)


» Click Here to Explore the Data

» Click Here for an Explanation of the Findings


Illicit Financial Flows Report Update: In the fourth update of its original report, Global Financial Integrity introduces a new, more accurate, methodolgy to estimate illicit financial flows from the developing world.


Media Resources

Press Release: New Study Reveals Crime, Corruption, Tax Evasion Drained US$946.7 Billion from Developing Countries in 2011 - December 11, 2013


PDF Download Media Tip-Sheet for Report (175 KB)


Contact: Clark Gascoigne

+1 202-293-0740 ext 222


About the Authors

The authors would like to thank interns Stefan Koumdjiev and Yiying Ding for their assistance with data research as well as Raymond Baker and other staff at Global Financial Integrity (GFI) for helpful comments. Any errors that remain are the authors’ responsibility.



Dev Kar, formerly a Senior Economist at the International Monetary Fund (IMF), is Lead Economist at GFI.


Read more about Dr. Kar...








Brian LeBlanc is an Economist at GFI.


Read more about Mr. LeBlanc...









Primary Findings

The developing world lost US$946.7 billion in illicit outflows in 2011, an increase of 13.7% over 2010. The capital outflows stem from crime, corruption, tax evasion, and other illicit activity.


The report finds that from 2002 to 2011, developing countries lost US$5.9 trillion to illicit outflows. The outflows increased at an average rate of 10.2% per year over the decade—significantly outpacing GDP growth.

As a percentage of GDP, Sub-Saharan Africa suffered the biggest loss of illicit capital. Illicit outflows from the region averaged 5.7% of GDP annually. Globally, illicit financial outflows averaged 4% of GDP.

China leads the world over the 10-year period with US$1.08 trillion in illicit outflows. However, 2011 marked the first time that Russia’s illicit outflows exceeded China’s, with a loss of US$191.14 billion against China’s US$151.35 billion. The previous methodology had significantly understated Russia’s illicit outflows, while it overstated China’s illicit outflows.

The Top 25 countries with the highest measured cumulative illicit financial outflows between 2002 and 2011 were:



Description: PDF Download Full Country Rankings (66 KB)
Description: PDF Download Full Country Outflow Data (152 KB)


To read more about what these numbers mean, click here.




  1. Data for Iraq was not available in 2002-2006, thus the average illicit outflows of US$15.76 billion reflect only the years 2007-2011.  Likewise, the cumulative outflows of US$78.79 billion for Iraq are cumulative outflows for 2007 through 2011 only.
  2. Illicit financial outflow estimates from the oil exporting nations of Brunei, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates should be viewed with caution as they could be inflated due to opaque transactions with their nation’s sovereign wealth funds.  GFI has flagged these countries in particular as their Net Errors and Omissions are greater than 50% of their Financial Account.

New Methodology


Last year, Global Financial Integrity debuted several important revisions to its HMN (Hot Money Narrow) methodology for calculating illicit financial flows. This report continues to revise GFI’s methodology by making significant changes to how it calculates GER (Gross Excluding Reversals) to estimate trade misinvoicing.


For the first time, this year’s report incorporates re-exporting data from Hong Kong and uses disaggregated—as opposed to aggregated—bilateral trade data for those countries which report it. The authors of this report believe that GFI’s previous methodology—which was accepted by most economists studying trade misinvoicing—resulted in an estimate that potentially overstated illicit outflows from many Asian countries and understated illicit outflows from other countries. Post-revision, the authors believe they have produced the most accurate estimate of global illicit financial outflows produced by GFI to date.


Except where otherwise stated, content on this site is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative License.

© 2006-2010 Global Financial Integrity. Some rights reserved.