Policy action to curb Illicit Financial Flows (IFFs) and secure resources for sustainable development require better data and better understanding of IFFs – their types, volume, impacts, channels, origins and destinations. As an illicit phenomenon, IFFs are not easy to track or measure.
Therefore, UNCTAD and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) have been assigned the custodianship of indicator 16.4.1, “total value of inward and outward IFFs”. In October 2020, after series of expert consultations on the scope and measurement of IFFs, UNCTAD and UNODC published a Conceptual Framework for the Statistical Measurement of Illicit Financial Flows endorsed by the United Nations Statistical Commission (UNSC) in March 2022.
The Conceptual Framework provides the first ever UN wide definition of IFFs for statistical purposes: Financial flows that are illicit in origin, transfer or use, that reflect an exchange of value and that cross country borders.
In addition, in May 2021, UNCTAD finalised a draft of Methodological Guidelines to Measure Tax and Commercial IFFs for pilot testing, aimed at statistical and other national authorities with a mandate to collect and access relevant information.
Activities that may generate illicit financial flows
An overview of our work on defining, estimating and disseminating statistics on illicit financial flows.
Pioneering and pilot countries measuring IFFs, by type of IFFs
The designations employed and the presentation of material on this map do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of the Secretariat of the United Nations and/or on the part of the countries mentioned on it, concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area or of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries. (ST/AI/189/Add.25/Rev.1). The information shown is this map is for information purposes only and should be not be considered as any form of endorsement by the United Nations and does not create any legal rights or obligations for any Member State or any of the organs thereof.
Recent developments on measuring illicit financial flows
Billions of dollars of IFFs slip through the cracks every year, including IFFs stemming from organized crime, trade in illegal goods, corruption and illegal and illicit tax and commercial practices move across borders, often in the direction of financial havens.