Wildlife Conservation Efforts

“Money Laundering and the Illegal Wildlife Trade” Report

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : FATF

Mains level : Wildlife trade and its prevention

A first global report on the illegal wildlife trade has been recently published by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).

Try this MCQ:

Q.The report “Money Laundering and the Illegal Wildlife Trade”  recently seen in news is released by:

A. TRAFFIC/ B. CITES/ C. IUCN/ D. FATF

Highlights of the Report

  • FATF has described illegal wildlife trade as a “global threat”, which also has links with other organised crimes like modern slavery, drug trafficking and arms trade.
  • The illegal trade is estimated to generate revenues of up to $23 billion a year.
  • The report flagged a lack of focus on the financial aspects of wildlife crime.

(1)Economy of illicit wildlife trade

  • It said that criminals are frequently misusing the legitimate wildlife trade, as well as other import-export type businesses.
  • The FATF found that jurisdictions often did not have the required knowledge, legislative basis and resources to assess and combat the threat posed by the funds generated through the illegal trade.
  • The study has highlighted the growing role of online marketplaces and mobile and social media-based payments to facilitate the movement of proceeds warranting a coordinated response from government bodies, the private sector and the civil society.

(2)Money laundering is prominent

  • According to the report, criminal syndicates are misusing the formal financial sector to launder the proceeds.
  • Funds are laundered through cash deposits, under the guise of loans or payments, e-banking platforms, licensed money value transfer systems, and third-party wire transfers via banks.
  • Accounts of innocent victims are also used and high-value payments avoided evading detection.

(3)Misuse of front companies

  • Another common trend is the misuse of front companies with links to the legal wildlife trade, said the report.
  • Front companies, often linked to import-export industries, and shell firms are used for the movement of goods and trans-border money transfers.

Recommendations of the report

  • The report says the financial probe is the key to dismantling the syndicates involved, which can in turn significantly impact the associated criminal activities.
  • It recommended that jurisdictions should consider implementing good practices, as observed during the study.
  • They include providing all relevant agencies with the necessary mandate and tools; and cooperating with other jurisdictions, international bodies and the private sector.
  • The FATF said that legislative changes were necessary to increase the applicability of anti-money laundering laws to the illegal wildlife trade-linked offences.

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Financial Action Task Force (FATF)

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