Corporations and organised crime rings are channelling billions of dollars a year out of Africa according to a recent report by the Thabo Mbeki Foundation.

It says the main culprits are companies, and they often employ trade-based money laundering techniques.

The report says sub-Saharan Africa loses about US$50 billion a year, or 5.5% of gross domestic product, through illicit financial flows.

The report found that companies mostly used mis-invoicing to channel money illegally across borders.

Extractive industries
Companies in the extractive industries, including major multinational metals and minerals companies, appear to be depriving Africa of substantial revenues according to the report.

It added that profit-shifting techniques were also being used, with profits dispatched offshore and moved around subsidiary companies.

Negative cash flow
Over the last 50 years, more money has left Africa illegally than the amount received in aid, concluded the report.

It is the result of research by a panel of experts, chaired by former South African president, Thabo Mbeki.

Banks unhelpful
Although the banking sector has a duty to report transactions that could be illegal, the panel found that many banks had found ways to assist corporations in the practice.

Limited capacity and weak institutions in many African countries makes policing illegal outflows particularly difficult according to the report.