FATF report flags wildlife trade
Illegal dealings generate $23 billion a year and have links to arms trade, slavery
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.
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.