Approximately $197bn flowed out of the 48 poorest and least developed countries over the years of 1990 to 2008, according to the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).

This sum of money, the group says, has significantly impeded the abilities of these countries to attract foreign investment and develop their economies.

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UNDP administrator Helen Clark said: “Illicit flows seriously impede efforts to raise resources for social and economic development. These flows are often absorbed into banks, tax havens and offshore financial centres in developed countries.”

The report found that lesser developed countries in Africa account for 69% of illicit flows, followed by Asia at 29%. Latin America only made up for 2%. Bangladesh was the top exporter of illicit capital at $34.8bn.

The report stated: “Corruption can impose high overhead costs of doing business, reducing the country’s capacity to attract FDI.”