African lawyers must strike a balance between the interests of their clients and that of society, especially with regards to the illegal outflows of money from the continent – says South Africa’s former President Thabo Mbeki who heads the Economic
Commission for Africa-African Union High-level Panel (HLP) on Illicit Financial Outflows from Africa. Mr Mbeki’s remarks came at the start of the Triennial General Assembly of the Pan African Lawyers Union (PALU) in Yaoundé, Cameroon.
In his keynote address to the lawyers’ triennial assembly which focuses on the theme “Financial flows from Africa: sealing the leaks, management and repatriation frozen assets”, Mr Mbeki said lawyers must step into the breach to fight the outflows which is robbing the continent of crucial resources needed to help finance its development.
The former South African leader and Head of the HLP, was earlier received in audience, on behalf of Cameroon’s Head of State, by Prime Minister Philemon Yang who actually opened the PALU triennial assembly, calling for a strong Yaoundé declaration by the lawyers against illegal money outflows from Africa.
Estimates show that Africa currently loses over US $50 billion yearly to such outflows – an amount which surpasses the development aid the continent receives.
The Mbeki panel has earlier noted in its preliminary observation that illegal financial outflows from Africa take the form of kickbacks and other forms of corruption involving civil servants; criminal activity such as drug and money trafficking and money laundering; as well as fraudulent commercial transactions such as tax evasion, the distortion of money transfer charges and over-billing (especially by transnational firms). The Report of the Panel’s multiple fact-finding missions across and beyond Africa, is expected to be presented to the 23rd AU Summit in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, from 20 to 27 June 2014.