Global Financial Integrity

 

Syria Lost US$23.6 Billion in Illicit Financial Outflows from 2000-2009, Says Forthcoming GFI Report

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Clark Gascoigne, +1 202 293 0740 ext. 222

New Blog Post from Report Co-author Says Illegal Capital Flight from the Middle East Nation Likely Accelerating

WASHINGTON, DC – A forthcoming report from Global Financial Integrity (GFI) finds Syria lost US$23.6 billion to corruption, crime and tax evasion from 2000-2009, writes GFI Economist Sarah Freitas in a new blog post on the website of the Task Force on Financial Integrity and Economic Development (financialtaskforce.org).

The article, titled “After Years of Leakages, Syrian Capital Flight Likely Intensifying,” releases data from GFI’s upcoming report, “Illicit Financial Flows from Developing Countries over the Decade Ending 2009,” which will be released later this month.  Ms. Freitas, who co-authored the report with GFI Lead Economist Dev Kar, states that illicit financial outflows from the Middle Eastern nation have likely increased in the wake of the recent uprising.

The article says:

Illicit outflows are not new to Syria. An upcoming report by Global Financial Integrity estimates that from 2000-2009, Syria lost $23.6 billion from corruption, trade mispricing, bribery, and other illicit activity. In a country with a per capita GDP of just US$2,891 in 2010, these outflows represent a loss of US$1,048 for every Syrian citizen. GFI’s study also finds evidence that bribery, kickbacks, and corruption increased dramatically from 2005-2009. It’s no wonder that Syrians are discontent.

An international shadow financial system is enabling wealthy Syrians, including corrupt public officials, terrorist financiers, and tax evaders, to move their money into safe havens offshore. In many countries, including the United States, individuals can form shell (anonymous) corporations to shield their money from the eyes of authorities. It was one of these shell corporations that allowed the government of Iran to own a skyscraper on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan for over 30 years before it was seized in 2009. Iran was able to evade sanctions for years using many layers of anonymous corporations, and it is likely that the regime in Syria uses similar vehicles to circumvent international sanctions.

Countries like the United States can make it more difficult for corrupt public officials like al-Asad to smuggle stolen assets out of their countries by eliminating anonymous corporations and strengthening anti-money laundering laws.

The full article can be found here.

To schedule an interview with Ms. Freitas or Dr. Kar, or to receive an embargoed copy of the report, contact Clark Gascoigne at cgascoigne@nullgfintegrity.org or +1 202 293 0740 ext.222.

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Global Financial Integrity (GFI) is a Washington, DC-based research and advocacy organization which promotes transparency in the international financial system.

For additional information please visit www.gfintegrity.org.

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