Ghana, Gambia, Nigeria are destination for stolen cars, other goods

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Ghana and two other countries serve as the most popular destinations for stolen cars, a new report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) reveals.

In addition, Ghana is associated with trafficking in three major drugs and oil theft.

According to the report, “although it is not possible to fully identify the scale of the flow of counterfeits, anecdotal evidence suggests it is rising.

“These practices are not unique to West Africa; the discovery of a large trafficking ring revealed that the most popular destinations for vehicles are Ghana, Gambia and Nigeria.”

This OECD (2018) report is titled: Illicit Financial Flows: The Economy of Illicit Trade in West Africa” and published under the responsibility of the Secretary-General of the OECD.

The magnitude of the stolen cars business in Ghana, Gambia, and Nigeria appears to be influencing the arrival of cars in other countries.

“For example, the rate of Benin’s imports of second-hand cars rose from 200 000 vehicles per year in 2010 to 314 000 in 2014. Around 80-90% of these vehicles go to Nigeria; it is likely that a number of transactions are illegal, and that Benin and Togo compete to smuggle vehicles into Nigeria,” authors of the OECD referenced INTERPOL.

According to the report, Asia and Europe are also implicated. “Cars are stolen from markets in Europe, most notably those with easy port access, although some vehicles are stolen from landlocked states. In an impressive display of logistical capacity, a car stolen in Europe can take less than 24 hours to arrive in West Africa for resale.”

Why West Africa?

“This report looks beyond specific countries to capture illicit financial flows (IFFs) in the West African region. It zeroes in on illicit trade to illustrate the larger picture: criminal activity as a source of IFFs, its relationship to development and the challenges it poses for governance,” according to Phil Mason, Co-chair of the Anti-Corruption Task Team and Senior Anti-Corruption Adviser at UK Department for International Development, and Jorge Moreira da Silva, Director, Development Co-operation Directorate of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

They say that the focus on West Africa, and for that matter, Ghana is because several countries in the region post extremely low development indicators, have weak state institutions and present capacity gaps for regulation. “As in many developing countries, a large share of economic activity takes place in the informal economy. Not everything informal is bad: in fact, the informal sector often provides precious livelihoods, particularly for the poor.

“Yet what happens informally happens outside the checks and balances of regulatory systems.

“As a result, illicit or criminal activities may flourish more easily, with negative implications for governance, peace, stability and development. Under these conditions, resource diversion and illegal acts affecting a country’s development can thrive, damage the integrity of institutions, and distort political governance in ways that disrupt the relationship between citizens and the state.”

The report under discussion feeds into a strategy of the OECD Development Co-operation Directorate to increase data and evidence in the area of IFFs to help address the risks they pose to development. This strategy started with the publication of Illicit Financial Flows from Development Countries: Measuring OECD Responses. Two other publications followed, Few and Far: The Hard Facts on Asset Recovery, and Tracking Anti-Corruption and Asset Recovery Commitments, tracing the efforts of OECD member countries to increase the investigation and repatriation of stolen assets to their countries of origin. So this new report, Illicit Financial Flows: The Economy of Illicit Trade in West Africa, builds on the first three in the series, focusing on West Africa.

Institutional partners from the region – the African Development Bank, the Intergovernmental Action Group on Money Laundering in West Africa and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development – provided access to local knowledge and networks, helping to understand the issues in their context. The World Bank contributed unique expertise and knowledge on the financing of terrorism.

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