The World Bank has launched its Stolen Asset Recovery (StAR) Initiative. Basically that's a service to help countries that have been plundered by corrupt rulers and others to get their assets back.
This is good news, but it's as interesting to note that it says in doing so that:
The cross-border flow of proceeds from criminal activity, corruption and tax evasion is estimated at between one and $1.6 trillion per year --half of this from developing and transition economies. Corrupt money associated with bribes received by public officials from developing and transition countries is estimated at $20-40 billion. While estimates of such monies are known to be imprecise, they give an idea of the large dimensions of the problem, warranting concerted action.
This is the first time any major international financial institution has to my knowledge estimated this flow for almost a decade. So that's significant.
Then I looked for the provenance of these numbers. And I can tell you where they come from. They're directly quoted from Raymond Baker's 'Capitalism's Achilles Heel' . Raymond's a senior Tax Justice Network adviser (as am I). It's good to see the major organisations in the world now using our data as a matter of course as being the most reliable estimates available. It's because they are, and it's because people are increasingly realising that the issues we raise are vital to the world and those who oppose us have no real answers to the agenda we're setting.
The World Bank's had a bad week and Wolfowitz needs to go. But someone there's got this one right.