Kofi Annan calls for investigation into money transfers

Former UN secretary general Kofi Annan is set to call for a full investigation by City regulators into the likes of MoneyGram and Western Union after his Africa Progress Report organisation accused the money transfer industry of ripping off the African diaspora to the tune of $1.8bn a year.

Speaking in London, Mr Annan will say that exorbitant fees levied on Africans working in the UK to send their money back home should be investigated, while the big money transfer companies should be investigated for monopolistic practices.

Africans send an estimated $5bn a year from the UK back to their home countries, marking a significant source of inward investment to some of the poorest countries in the world. However, money transfer companies typically charge 8-9 per cent for the service on top of often undisclosed currency exchange costs which can make up a further 3-5%.

The money transfer system, along with banking and insurance generally in Africa, comes under fire in the sweeping report aimed at exposing how the nation’s fisheries and agriculture is being “plundered” by richer countries due to corruption and tax evasion.

Mr Annan will say: “After more than a decade of growth, there is plenty to celebrate. But it is time to ask why so much growth has done so little to lift people out of poverty – and why so much of Africa’s resource wealth is squandered through corrupt practices and unscrupulous investment activities.”

Fishing fleets, particularly from Asia, stand accused of overfishing the seas in Africa’s coastal waters and illegally failing to report the size of their catches.

Such behaviour both depletes stocks for local fishermen and deprives the African countries of much-needed tax revenue. The report details how fishing fleets from countries like Russia, China or South Korea will sail under Panamanian or Liberian flags so as to avoid scrutiny from their real countries of origin. The Africa Progress Report compares such activity to shady businesses masking their activities through offshore shell companies.

“Illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing has reached epidemic proportions in Africa’s coastal waters,” the report says, claiming West Africa alone is conservatively estimated to lose $1.3bn a year. Local fishing industries and communities are being destroyed by the foreign fleets, some of whom operate with the corrupt approval of the state, others knowing the local country is too poor to police its waters properly anyway.

Senegal is the worst affected country in West Africa from the illegal fishing trade, with largescale commercial fleets trawling on an industrial scale in its waters. Losses to illegal fishing in 2011 were estimated by researchers at the University of British Columbia at $300m. Due to the country’s poverty, monitoring and tracking capabilities are extremely limited, but the NGO Greenpeace has been observing and providing data on the illegal activities of Russian vessels there. Early this year, a Senegalese court managed to prosecute the operators of a Russian ship, the Oleg Naydenov, and fined them $12m.

The report details how such illegal fishermen operate with impunity due to the ease with which they can unload their catch at rogue ports in countries like Russia without having to declare their catches.

Mr Annan will call for a multilateral fisheries regime applying sanctions to fishing vessels that do not register and report their catches.

The report also condemns the illegal logging which continues to plague the continent, depriving countries of much-needed tax revenues.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

SThree: Experienced Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £40000 per annum + OTE + Incentives + Benefits: SThree: Established f...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE 40/45k + INCENTIVES + BENEFITS: SThree: The su...

Recruitment Genius: Collections Agent

£14000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company was established in...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE 40k: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 busi...

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones