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
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45,000: SThree: SThree Group have been well e...

Ashdown Group: IT Manager / Development Manager - NW London - £58k + 15% bonus

£50000 - £667000 per annum + excellent benefits : Ashdown Group: IT Manager / ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Consultant / Telemarketer - OTE £20,000

£13000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Scotland's leading life insuran...

Ashdown Group: Training Programme Manager - City, London

£40000 - £45000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Training Programme Manag...

Day In a Page

Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

The secret CIA Starbucks

The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

One million Britons using food banks

Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

How to run a restaurant

As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Usher, Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert

The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
10 best tote bags

Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

Paul Scholes column

I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England
Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

The heptathlete has gone from the toast of the nation to being a sleep-deprived mum - but she’s ready to compete again. She just doesn't know how well she'll do...