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$128 Billion Siphoned Out Of India In A Decade

NEW DELHI – Even as the country continues to witness a campaign for a strong anti-corruption watchdog, a report has calculated that between $104 billion and $128 billion (roughly Rs 5 to 6 lakh crore) was illegally siphoned out of India in the decade spanning 2000 to 2009.

This works out to an average outflow of about $10-13 billion (Rs 48,000 to Rs 63,000 crore) every year.

The report has been prepared by international watchdog Global Financial Integrity (GFI), which first collected and computed worldwide data on illicit financial outflows in 2008.

International watchdog Global Financial Integrity’s (GFI) report on illicit financial flows says nearly Rs 6 lakh crore was illegally siphoned out of India in the decade spanning 2000 to 2009.

GFI estimates illicit flows by looking at data on two aspects of the economy. The first category is calculated by comparing foreign funds generated by external borrowings and foreign direct investment with the uses to which these funds could be put – bridging the country’s current account deficit or adding to its forex reserves.

If the official data shows that the use is less than the funds generated, there must be an illicit outflow and if it is more there must be an illicit inflow. GFI data shows that in India over $6.8 billion (about Rs 33,000 crore) was lost in this manner over the decade.

The second category is illicit flows that arise through trade mispricing. If an importer declares a higher import value to the customs department than the value of goods recorded by the exporting partner country, it creates an illicit outflow.

Similarly, if an exporter understates the value of goods actually exported in relation to the imports recorded in the importing partner country and keeps the balance of funds abroad, that too is an illicit outflow. International trade data reveals such mispricing by comparing data from partner trading countries.It is this type of jugglery that accounts for the bulk of illicit flows in India – worth over $121.65 billion (Rs 5.8 lakh crore) or almost 95% of the total.

According to the GFI report, India, like China, also displays a peculiar kind of circular flow of funds called “round-tripping”. In this trick of high finance, money illegally flows out and then illegally flows in to be invested in the underground or black economy. This not only causes huge tax losses to the public exchequer but bolsters the illegal domestic economy.

China continues to be ranked first in the international league tables of illicit financial flows, with over $2.74 trillion estimated to have been taken out of the country between 2000 and 2009. Others in the big league include Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia and UAE. Trade mispricing accounts for about 51% of global illicit financial flows. Corruption, kickbacks, theft and bribery are the primary conduit for the unrecorded transfer of capital from oil exporters such as Kuwait, Nigeria, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Venezuela. However, in Mexico, another oil producer, trade mispricing is the main source of illicit flows.

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