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Corrupt Money’s Negative Economic Impact Can Be Measured, Shows World Bank Study

Press Release No:2012/171/STAR

Washington, D.C., December 1, 2011 –- Income derived from corruption can be equivalent to a significant percentage of a country’s GDP, shows a new study by the World Bank entitled Ill-Gotten Money and the Economy, Experiences from Malawi and Namibia.

Corruption and tax evasion are the main sources of ill-gotten money in developing countries

In Malawi, income that is acquired through corruption amounts to about 5 percent of GDP, while tax evasion is estimated to equal 8 to 12 percent of GDP. In Namibia, while corruption is considered to be significant, tax evasion is by far the largest measurable source of ill-gotten money, equivalent to an estimated 9 percent of GDP.


Income derived from corruption is
5 % of GDP
in Malawi


“While these figures are estimates, this study shows that ill-gotten money and its associated economic impact can be more systematically quantified, and that the effect is negative. This will hopefully mobilize efforts to establish more effective anti-money laundering policies,” says Stuart Yikona, World Bank Senior Financial Sector Specialist and one of the report’s authors.


Tax evasion is estimated at
9% of GDP
in Namibia

Ill-gotten money  

See the FACTSHEET for more information

Conducted in collaboration with country experts, the study measures the magnitude of corrupt money and shows how the recycling of ill-gotten money and other related underlying criminal acts negatively affect economic development and poverty reduction.

The high economic cost of criminal activities such as corruption, tax evasion and its related “dirty money” flows reinforces the need for developing country policy makers and practitioners to act effectively –and early- to curb such activities. Corruption and tax evasion affect national budgets, ultimately undercutting the provision of public services in education, health and infrastructure, for example.

The importantance of well-designed anti-money laundering tools in combating corruption

The study also confirms that well-designed anti-money laundering measures such as the use of financial intelligence can be useful tools in combating corruption, tax evasion and other financial crimes. Therefore, it is important that developing countries adopt customized legal regimes and institutions to go after dirty money when implementing international anti-money laundering standards. These regimes should reflect the local political, economic and social context.

The study supports national efforts to formulate anti-money laundering policies by providing a framework that can be used to analyze the amounts and effects of ill-gotten money. “The study guides countries to conduct a cost-benefit analysis on the implementation of their anti-money laundering policies,” says Leonie Dunn, Director of the Namibia Financial Intelligence Centre. “Governments can evaluate whether or not sufficient measures have been taken to estimate the risks illicit money flows pose to economic development and to effectively address those risks.” As a follow up to this study, Namibia will conduct a national money laundering risk assessment in 2012 to explore how anti-money laundering policies can be reformulated to focus on the real dangers of ill-gotten money flows to the economy.

Tom Malikebu, Deputy Director of the Malawi Financial Intelligence Unit, adds that “this study provides an insight into the sources and magnitude of ill-gotten funds. Such insight is a stepping stone in prioritizing resources for combating crimes that have the most detrimental effect on Malawi’s economy.”

Ill-Gotten Money and the Economy is part of the Financial Market Integrity’s support for the efforts of policymakers and practitioners to eliminate safe havens for the proceeds of corruption and other financial crimes.

The full report can be accessed at

Media contacts:

In Lilongwe: Zeria Banda Phone: +265 1 770611 E-mail: 
In Pretoria: Mmenyane Seoposengwe Phone: +27 73 888 4598 E-mail: 
In Washington: Beata Plonka Phone: +1-202-458-5991 E-mail:

About the World Bank Group
The World Bank Group is one of the world’s largest sources of funding and knowledge for developing countries. It comprises five closely associated institutions: the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) and the International Development Association (IDA), which together form the World Bank; the International Finance Corporation (IFC); the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA); and the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID). Each institution plays a distinct role in the mission to fight poverty and improve living standards for people in the developing world. For more information, please visit,, and

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