Tackling the illegal wildlife trade as a financial crime

Beijing, 22 November 2019 - Every year, the illegal wildlife trade threatens many animal species with extinction.  Not only does this illegal trade have a devastating impact on our biodiversity, it is also generating vast amounts of revenues for criminal networks, often with a wide international reach. UN research estimates that the illegal wildlife trade is worth as much as 23 billion USD every year.

The Financial Action Task Force, under its Chinese presidency, has made it a priority to help countries go after the money involved in the illegal wildlife trade, and identify and disrupt large criminal networks that profit from this crime.

Today, FATF President Xiangmin Liu hosted one of the first regional meetings on tackling the illegal wildlife trade as a financial crime, in Beijing, China. This is the first time that public and private sector representatives, including anti-money laundering experts and wildlife experts, have come together to share experiences about detecting and combatting the financial flows linked to the illegal wildlife trade. 

The financial sector plays a crucial role in identifying suspicious activity, and this workshop benefited from the experience of major financial institutions such as Standard Chartered and the China Construction Bank.

Dialogue between the public and private sector is vital in assisting financial institutions and law enforcement agencies to identify suspicious activity, and to maintain an up-to-date understanding of the evolving threats and risks linked to the illegal wildlife trade. During the next year, the FATF will work with the public and private sector, including the People’s Bank of China, the United for Wildlife Financial Taskforce and The Royal Foundation, to develop a report on good practices that will assist in financial investigations of the illegal wildlife trade. The report will highlight how public-private partnerships and international cooperation can help to identify and disrupt the illicit proceeds of this devastating criminal activity.

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