Illicit Financial Flows

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

SDG pulse


An overview of our work on defining, estimating and disseminating statistics on illicit financial flows.


Open playlist


News and Commentary

Pioneering and pilot countries measuring IFFs, by type of IFFs


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Recent developments on measuring illicit financial flows

SDG pulse

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.


More on measuring IFFs