US-Based Companies Complicit In Looting Of African Wealth – MENAFN.COM
If you caught the breaking news story about Russians flying gold out of Sudan , straight from the mines, you were likely shocked by the blatant theft. The truth is that for years, every year, nearly $90 billion of African resources are lost to the Global North in Illicit Financial Flows, or IFFs. It isn’t just the Russians—U.S.-based corporations and others throughout the Global North are also complicit in this theft.
IFFs drain community revenues, which the U.S. government then tries to plug with assistance.
But at this point, as far as we can tell, curbing these flows is not on the Biden administration’s agenda for the U.S.-African Leaders Summit, which will take place this December. This seems to be at odds with President Biden’s commitment to“reinforce the U.S.-Africa commitment to democracy and human rights,”“advance peace and security,”“respond to the climate crisis,” and“amplify diaspora ties.”
IFF activity always involves trampling on human rights.
According to the Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association, the extractive industry there is fertile ground for IFFs. Human rights violations manifest as a lack of fair and adequate compensation during involuntary relocations and a lack of access to remedy for rights violations, as well as harassment, threats, and prosecution of environmental human rights defenders.
People in these plundered communities do not have a voice. They face harm to local biodiversity, loss of their livelihoods, and a lack of meaningful benefits. The U.S. can do much to mitigate the damage, and we can start with meaningful preparation for the upcoming summit.
First on the agenda should be our stance regarding the new demand for lithium, cobalt, and other strategic minerals needed to fuel electric cars. We have an opportunity to get ahead of IFF activity in this relatively new industry, including amplifying community voices that call for transparent contracting, substantive investment in communities, decent wages and working conditions for miners, and annual tax revenue reporting.
Currently, there are no consequences for the U.S.-based companies involved in IFF activities. In other words, they profit from corruption with impunity.
A recent case involves Bain & Company and then-President Jacob Zuma of South Africa. They colluded to decimate the country’s ability to collect tax revenue , redirected funds to Mr. Zuma and his friends, and crafted a procurement process designed to benefit the U.S.-based firm. Bain later admitted that they hadn’t had the expertise for the project and returned millions in fees, which didn’t even begin to address the harm done to everyday South Africans. Those involved in-country are being taken to task, the South African effort to get to …….