Misinvoicing by transnationals is costing Africa far more than official corruption according to research by the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA).

Developed countries meanwhile should return stolen assets or the proceeds from the sale of misinvoiced commodities without conditions, says UNECA senior advisor Adeyinka Adeyemi.

Transnational responsibility

The commission reckons that every year US$50 billion worth of assets leave Africa illicitly to developed countries while around US$1 trillion has left Africa secretly over the last 50 years.

Some 75 per cent of assets illicitly channeled out of Africa are traceable “to the behaviours or actions or inactions of our transnationals” such as misinvoicing.

In contrast, only 5 per cent of the flows are traceable to official corruption, according to UNECA.

Return assets

Assets should be returned to Africa according to UNECA. Meanwhile, some suggest that assets should only be returned to countries on condition they meet good governance requirements.

Adeyemi disagrees. Returning the missing assets without any conditions would obviate the need for foreign aid in Africa he argues, and he believes the return of the continent’s assets is a reasonable request.

Conversely, making the return of assets conditional on countries meeting good governance requirements is an unreasonable request. “You cannot ‘steal money’ and attach condition[s] to a return,” says Adeyemi.