Thabo MbekiFollowing the request by African Union (AU) Assembly of Heads of States and Governments for the Chair of the High Level Panel on Illicit Financial Flows (IFF) from Africa to continue to lead advocacy efforts both regionally and globally on the issue, the Chair of the Panel, Mr Thabo Mbeki, Former President of the Republic of South Africa will be making an official visit to the United States of America between February 16-19, 2016.

The request came in the form of the Special Declaration on IFF which was promptly passed by the Assembly upon their endorsed acceptance of the High Level Panel Report on Illicit Financial Flows (IFF) from Africa at the 24th African Union Summit held in January 2015 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. In a move that was both swift and unanimous, the Assembly of African Heads of States demonstrated a full understanding of the concerns raised by illicit financial outflows leaving Africa and noted that “all forms of IFF including tax evasion by multinational corporations and money laundering constitute a drain on the resources required for Africa’s development.” The Special Declaration also delivered several other mandates including the effective dissemination of the Panel’s findings and recommendations by the Chair and members of the Panel. Besides leading the advocacy work, Mr Mbeki was further tasked with helping to increase cooperation between Africa and its external development partners in order to promote a better global understanding of the scale of the problem for African economies.

During his visit, the Chair of the Panel and his delegation will be holding consultations and undertaking advocacy with various stakeholders in the United States, including: the United States government entities relevant to addressing IFF from Africa, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank officials, as well as the international Diplomatic Corps. He will also be speaking to the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) of the United Nations (UN), as well as African Ambassadors to the UN. Subsequently, Mr Mbeki will also hold meetings with representatives of the civil society, private sector and academia.

This being the first of several global advocacy visits and activities, Mr Mbeki and the delegation will undertake further consultations in Europe with the European Union (EU), the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and members of the British government, among others. The High Level Panel made visits to these same countries and institutions during their consultations before the release of the report. The aim of these visits therefore is to deliver the Panel’s findings post-release and to encourage the adoption of relevant global policies, including safeguards and agreements to redress the situation of IFF.

Since the release of the report, there has been a surge of support to its findings and improved collaboration between numerous African institutions (Anti-IFF Stakeholders) have delivered actionable plans to actually implement the recommendations of the Panel’s Report. The visit to the USA comes just months after two sub-regional meetings were held in Ghana and Kenya in 2015. Both meetings, which were led by Mr Mbeki brought together representatives of financial intelligence units, tax and revenue officials among others from every African region to share knowledge and experiences on the issue of IFF and also learn from countries who had seen positive results in combating the problem. Prior to this, Mr Mbeki was actively part of round-table discussions during the Third International Conference on Financing for Development (FfD3) held in Addis Ababa in July, 2015. The conference solidified the commitment by the global community to work with Africa on the issue of curbing IFF from the continent and its outcome document contained strong language on the issue of IFF and eradicating them.

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