Australian financial services watchdog issues guide to combat illegal wildlife trade, money laundering and illicit fund flows

The Australian government’s financial intelligence agency that monitors financial transactions to identify money laundering and other financial crimes has issued a guide for financial institutions to combat illegal wildlife trafficking trade by identifying, targeting and reporting suspicious financial activity.

The guide issued by the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC) explicitly emphasises the role wildlife trade financial criminality plays in fuelling the threat of money laundering and enabling criminal organisations to channel illicit funds through the financial system.

Illicit funds disguised

The guide was developed by AUSTRAC’s public-private partnership, the Fintel Alliance, in association with the Department of Agriculture, Water and Environment. It aims to educate businesses on how illegal wildlife trafficking operates, the ways it can be detected by suspicious financial activity and when they should report to the financial watchdog.

The illegal wildlife trade is big business for organised criminal syndicates, generating revenues of up to 23 billion Australian dollars (US$16.4 billion) a year globally.

AUSTRAC’s CEO, Nicole Rose, said organised criminals use services provided by financial institutions to move and disguise illicit funds, so the private sector has a crucial role to play in stopping the cruel and illegal trade in trafficking Australia’s animals.

Money laundering threat

“The illegal market for Australian wildlife sees animals removed from their habitat and mistreated by individuals and organised criminal networks for profit,” the guide says. 

“This cruel crime puts some of Australia’s most vulnerable species at further risk and has the potential to cause significant environmental damage, while fuelling a global money laundering threat,” it concludes.

Download and read the guide, Financial crime guide – Stopping the illegal trafficking of Australian wildlife, here.

Categories: Trade Based Financial crimes News

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