Experts at the Royal United Services Institute have welcomed today’s commitment to combatting the illegal wildlife trade by the Financial Action Task Force, the intergovernmental body dedicated to combatting money laundering.
This week at its latest Plenary meeting in Paris, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) committed to developing 'good practices in tackling the financial flows linked to illegal wildlife trade.’ As the central global body for setting standards on fighting financial crime, FATF leadership is critical. RUSI therefore welcomes this commitment.
The illegal wildlife trade (IWT) is not just an environmental crime; it is a profit-driven illegal industry conducted on an industrial scale across the globe. Targeting this crime via freezing and confiscation the proceeds of the crime is critical.
Alexandria Reid, a research analyst at RUSI said, ‘The financial investigation of the illegal wildlife trade is an often-overlooked response. Through our research and in-country engagements, RUSI has been promoting the targeting of the proceeds of IWT, so this week’s developments at the FATF are very welcome.’
Tom Keatinge, Director of RUSI’s Centre for Financial Crime & Security Studies said, ‘For the criminals, the Illegal Wildlife Trade is a low-risk, high-reward crime. By making a concerted, global effort to target the profits of IWT, this equation will be reversed. But implementation will be key and we call on the FATF to ensure that its words are put into action.’
Cathy Haenlein, Director of Organised Crime and Policing at RUSI noted that ‘sustained engagement and follow up will now be required to ensure that the profit motive is more effectively addressed. RUSI stands ready to draw on its experience to support the FATF to pursue this commitment.’
- For the past four years, RUSI has run a range of research projects assessing the global financial crime response to IWT, including two funded by HM Government’s DEFRA Challenge Fund
- For further details see, ‘Follow the Money: Using Financial Investigation to Combat Wildlife Crime’ (September 2017) available at https://rusi.org/publication/occasional-papers/follow-money-using-financial-investigation-combat-wildlife-crime
Centre for Financial Crime and Security Studies
Associate Fellow; Senior Global Policy Adviser at Global Witness