South Africa has been responsible for approximately $210 billion worth of illegal financial movements between 2004 and and 2013 – one of the highest among emerging economies.

This is according to a new report from research group, Global Finance Integrity (GFI), which tracked illicit financial flows over that period.

Illicit financial flows are illegal movements of money or capital from one country to another. The movement of money is classified as an illicit flow when the funds are illegally earned, transferred, and/or utilised.

These movements include trade mis-pricing, bulk cash movements, hawala transactions, smuggling and more.

According to the GFI, illicit financial flows have surged to $1.1 trillion (R16 trillion) in 2013 from $465 billion (R6.8 trillion) in 2004, calling the practice “the most damaging economic problem faced by the world’s emerging and developing countries”.

Illicit financial flows averaged a “staggering” 4% of the developing world’s GDP in 2013, and Sub-Saharan Africa suffered the largest illicit financial outflows, averaging 6.1% of GDP.

South Africa’s illicit flows averaged $20.9 billion (R305 billion) over the period (6% of 2013’s GDP), with a cumulative tally of $209.2 billion (R3.05 trillion).

Notably, South Africa made the largest jump from the tenth to the seventh spot, surpassing Nigeria to become the largest IFF source country on the African continent.

Illitic outflow rankings (2004-2013)

# Country Cumulative ZAR
1 China $1 392.28 billion R20.29 trillion
2 Russia $1 059.77 billion R15.45 trillion
3 Mexico $528.44 billion R7.70 trillion
4 India $510.29 billion R7.44 trillion
5 Malaysia $418.54 billion R6.10 trillion
6 Brazil $226.67 billion R3.30 trillion
7 South Africa $209.22 billion R3.05 trillion
8 Thailand $191.77 billion R2.80 trillion
9 Indonesia $180.71 billion R2.63 trillion
10 Nigeria $178.04 billion R2.60 trillion
11 Kazakhstan $167.40 billion R2.44 trillion
12 Turkey $154.50 billion R2.25 trillion
13 Venezuela $123.94 billion R1.81 trillion
14 Ukraine $116.76 billion R1.70 trillion
15 Costa Rica $113.46 billion R1.65 trillion
16 Iraq $105.01 billion R1.53 trillion
17 Azerbaijan $95.00 billion R1.39 trillion
18 Vietnam $92.94 billion R1.36 trillion
19 Philippines $90.25 billion R1.32 trillion
20 Poland $90.02 billion R1.31 trillion