FATF re­port flags wildlife trade

Il­le­gal deal­ings gen­er­ate $23 bil­lion a year and have links to arms trade, slav­ery

The Hindu - - NEWS - Devesh K. Pandey

In its first global re­port on the il­le­gal wildlife trade, the Fi­nan­cial Ac­tion Task Force (FATF) has de­scribed it as a “global threat”, which also has links with other or­gan­ised crimes such as mod­ern slav­ery, drug traf­fick­ing and arms trade.

The il­le­gal trade is es­ti­mated to gen­er­ate rev­enues of up to $23 bil­lion a year. The re­port says a fi­nan­cial in­ves­ti­ga­tion is key to dis­man­tling the syn­di­cates in­volved, which can in turn sig­nif­i­cantly im­pact the as­so­ci­ated crim­i­nal ac­tiv­i­ties.

The find­ings of the study, which ex­pressed con­cern over the lack of fo­cus on the fi­nan­cial as­pects of the crime, are based on in­puts from some 50 ju­ris­dic­tions across the FATF global net­work, as well as ex­per­tise from the pri­vate sec­tor and civil so­ci­ety.

Fraud and tax eva­sion

The “Money Laun­der­ing and the Il­le­gal Wildlife Trade” re­port said “crim­i­nals are fre­quently mis­us­ing the le­git­i­mate wildlife trade, as well as other im­port-ex­port type busi­nesses, as a front to move and hide il­le­gal pro­ceeds from wildlife crimes. They also rely reg­u­larly on cor­rup­tion, com­plex fraud and tax eva­sion”.

The study has high­lighted the grow­ing role of on­line mar­ket­places and mo­bile and so­cial me­dia-based pay­ments to fa­cil­i­tate move­ment of pro­ceeds war­rant­ing a co­or­di­nated re­sponse from gov­ern­ment bod­ies, the pri­vate sec­tor and the civil so­ci­ety.

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 trade.

Good prac­tices

The re­port rec­om­mended that ju­ris­dic­tions should con­sider im­ple­ment­ing the good prac­tices, as ob­served dur­ing the study.

The re­port noted that in 2012, In­dia amended the Pre­ven­tion of Money Laun­der­ing Act re­mov­ing a value thresh­old — of ₹30 lakh and above — that was ear­lier ap­pli­ca­ble to the wildlife trade pred­i­cates.

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