The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) recently published its first global report on illegal wildlife trade (IWT). IWT is a prominent kind of transnational organized crime, leading to billions in criminal proceeds every year. Wildlife traffickers misuse both the financial and non-financial sectors to conceal and launder their illegal proceeds. However, governments have not yet scrutinized the financial aspects of this crime. FATF’s study serves to help jurisdictions tackle IWT-related money-laundering.
The report highlights that IWT perpetrators often conduct illegal activities by using legitimate wildlife trade or other import-export type businesses as a front. Corruption, fraud and tax evasion are also used as means to propagate IWT. The report has identified the use of online marketplaces and digital payments in enabling the financial flows in IWT.
The FATF has made several recommendations so that governments can update their policies and procedures related to IWT. It recommends that the private and the public sectors, along with citizens should come together to dismantle this financial side of IWT. Governments should provide all concerned authorities with the tools to investigate the finances of IWT. Furthermore, authorities fighting wildlife crimes and financial investigators must collaborate with each other to empower the fight against IWT. At the same time, tackling a global issue like IWT necessitates cooperation among countries, international organizations and the private sector.