A total of R10.8 billion was illegally transferred out of South Africa during the past year, according to national police commissioner general Riah Phiyega.
She and Police Minister Nathi Nhleko released South Africa’s crime statistics for the past year on Tuesday.
Phiyega added that a lot of small businesses are illegal. They are trading with a lot of money – “money that does not get to the bank, but flows in and out the country”.
Commercial crime overall was 11.6% down to 67,830 cases in the 2014/15 year from 76,744 from the year before.
This problem of illegal money flows on the continent has again come under the spotlight in recent weeks. Last month former South African President Thabo Mbeki told a meeting of the Group of African Governors affiliated with the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund that Africa loses “over 50 thousand million dollars” each year as a result of the illicit flow of funds.
“Africa faces the great challenge of large volumes of capital leaving the continent illicitly – money that our continent needs to address the challenges of development.”
Mbeki maintained it is possible to stop the outflow of funds with proper monitoring of the transactions of large commercial companies. Moreover, he said, interventions are needed from institutions such as tax authorities, customs, central banks, financial intelligence units for combating money laundering, audit and anti-corruption authorities and the police.
There was also a need for appropriate legislation to give these institutions the mandate they need to cooperate in the fight against illicit capital outflows at regional level and across borders, he said.
In June this year six pan-African lobby groups said at the launch of a “Stop The Bleeding” campaign that if illicit financial outflows were retained in Africa, the world’s poorest continent could improve its people’s health, education and incomes.
The campaigners said that crackdowns on tax evasion and illicit financial flows and improved tax collection in developing countries would raise more money than any likely increase in foreign aid.