US and South Africa establish task force to combat financing of wildlife trafficking

The US treasury department and South Africa’s national treasury have made a commitment to form a US-South Africa task force on combatting the financing of wildlife trafficking.

The task force will work to combat illicit finance linked to illegal wildlife trade in three key areas: sharing indicators of suspicious activity; exchanging information, and encouraging inter-agency activity to counter wildlife trafficking and money laundering.

Red flags and indicators

The task force will prioritise the sharing of financial red flags and indicators related to wildlife trafficking cases, especially those involving the US and South Africa financial systems.

The South African Anti-Money Laundering Integrated Task Force (SAMLIT), a public private partnership, will play a key role working in collaboration with the US treasury department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) in this effort.

Information sharing and cooperation

The task force aims to use increased information sharing between financial intelligence units to better support key law enforcement agencies from the US and South Africa.

This is expected to bolster law enforcement efforts to use financial investigations to pursue and recover the illicit proceeds of wildlife criminals, especially transnational criminal organisations fuelling and benefiting from corruption and the trafficking of, among other things, abalone, rhino horns, pangolins, and elephant ivory.

The task force will also convene relevant government authorities, regulators, law enforcement, and the private sector to improve controls to combat money laundering and illicit proceeds related to drug trafficking and wildlife trafficking.

 Follow the money

The task force was established this week after US treasury secretary Janet Yellen visited South Africa where she met with top officials.

To protect wildlife populations from further poaching and disrupt the associated illicit trade, Yellen said, “we must follow the money in the same way we do with other serious crimes.”

“This includes identifying and seizing the proceeds generated from the illegal wildlife trade and impeding the money laundering and cross-border transactions of the transnational criminal organisations often involved in – and who benefit from – corruption,” she concluded.


Categories: Trade Based Financial crimes News

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