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FATF’s first global report on illegal wildlife trade released; more zoonotic diseases in the future

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Money Laundering and the Illegal Wildlife TradeIn accordance with the first ever report on illegal wildlife trade (IWT) titled “Money Laundering and the Illegal Wildlife Trade” report by Financial Action Task Force (FATF), illegal wildlife trade is a “global threat” which generate estimated revenues between $7to $23 billion a year.  This crime could lead to more zoonotic diseases in the future.

  • The report is based on the inputs of 50 jurisdictions across the FATF global network, as well as expertise from the private sector and civil society.
  • During the study, 22 of the 45 respondent countries considered themselves as source for wildlife crime, 18 as transit countries and 14 as destination countries. All but nine reported to be impacted by the risks from financial flows linked to the trade, with the majority of exceptions being European countries.

Findings of the study:

-The report expressed concerns over the lack of focus on the financial aspects of the crime by the jurisdictions.

– Criminals are frequently misusing online marketplaces, mobile and social media-based payments, front companies linked to import-export industries, and shell firms to move and hide illegal proceeds (goods & money) from wildlife crimes.

-Funds are laundered through cash deposits, under the guise of loans or payments, e-banking platforms, licensed money value transfer systems (MVTS) like ‘hawala’, ‘hundi’ and ‘fei chen’, and third-party wire transfers via banks. 

Steps to be taken

-The report recommended that jurisdictions should consider legislative changes to increase the applicability of anti-money laundering laws to the illegal wildlife trade-linked offences.

  • For eg: In 2012, India amended the Prevention of Money Laundering (ML), 2002 removing a value threshold of Rs 30 lakh and above applicable to the wildlife trade predicates. Under the new approach (2012), there is no threshold. This has increased the applicability of India’s ML offence to a broader range of wildlife trafficking offences.

-Jurisdictions should provide all relevant agencies with the necessary mandate and tools; and cooperating with other jurisdictions, international bodies and the private sector.

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About FATF:

FATF is an independent inter-governmental body that develops and promotes policies to protect the global financial system against money laundering, terrorist financing and the financing of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
Presidency– Xiangmin Liu of China (The term of the President is of 1 year which begins on 1 July and ends on 30 June of the following year)
Headquarters – Paris, France
Executive Secretary– David Lewis
Member– 37 member jurisdictions (including India) and 2 regional organisation