Corruption comes with a cost. Around the world, corruption damages the effectiveness of governments to provide essential public services. Corruption destroys the well being of populations, for the benefit of just a few. West Africa is not an exception.

Corruption is a vicious cycle. It causes bad governance and underdevelopment and it is a consequence of it. Corruption distorts social and behavorial norms. A small payment for ignoring crimes or for winning major contracts can have wide impacts on society in key areas like health, education, or infrastructure, as well as peace and security. 

It's a complicated state of play. Private companies who try to follow the right path are likely to hit the wall of corruption and inaction, while public officials are pushed by poor salary conditions and internal pressures to danse to the tune of corrupt intermediaries. 

A recent report  by the African Union’s (AU) high-level panel on illicit financial flows and the UN economic commission for Africa (Uneca) show how, fuelled by tax havens, Africa as a continent is losing more than $50bn (£33bn) every year in illicit financial outflows, very often facilitated by corruption.

The African Development Bank has established in an earlier report that Africa is a net creditor to the world, as all official development assistance is less than the money flowing out of the continent. Illegal transfers from African countries have allegedly tripled since 2001.

Very often intermediaries facilitate grand corruption with legal constructions located outside the African continent in notorious tax havens. To dismantle this corrupt global governance infrastructure, a closer looks needs to be taken at the places where ill-gotten wealth is hidden or transits before being laundered around the world.