Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Suspicious activity report may show increase in wildlife trafficking

The US Authority to Combat Financial Crimes such as money laundering and terrorist financing said on Monday that it is seeing more and more suspicious financial transactions linked to illegal wildlife trafficking.

The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) said, “Wildlife trafficking is a major international organized crime that promotes corruption, threatens biodiversity, damages fragile ecosystems, and has significant negative impacts on public health and the economy.” can put.” (Photo: tonyo_au, Pixabay, License)In a statement accompanying its threat, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) said, “Wildlife trafficking is a major international organized crime that promotes corruption, threatens biodiversity, damages fragile ecosystems, and could have a significant negative impact on public health and the economy.” Analysis.

The proceeds of the trafficking are believed to range from US$7 billion to $23 billion per year. Financial institutions in the US are required to file a Suspicious Activity Report (SAR) within 30 days of observing what could be criminal activity, such as cash transactions of more than $5,000.

“FinCEN analysis of SARs related to wildlife trafficking filed by the end of 2021 indicates that wildlife trafficking continues to affect the US financial sector, but current identification and reporting of potential wildlife trafficking by financial institutions is the totality of wildlife trafficking and related illegal financial activity.” May not reflect a nexus for the United States,” the agency said in the analysis.

The number of wildlife trafficking SARs that FinCEN receives has been increasing steadily over the years.

“This trend potentially reflects an increased overall prevalence of wildlife trafficking activity, as well as better identification and reporting of potential illegal activity by financial institutions, which may be related to increased awareness of reporting obligations related to wildlife trafficking, FinCEN said.

According to FinCEN, most of the reports were related to suspicious fund transfers and money laundering. The most common species smuggled were elephants (both ivory and other parts) and rhinos. Income is often hidden among other industries arising from the source countries of wildlife.

Payments for wildlife shipping may be disguised as payments to gold, diamond, or precious metals dealers or precious metals trading business,” FinCEN said. “Additionally, gold, diamonds and other precious metals are used for wildlife trade. This can be done to facilitate payment or to hide the proceeds of wildlife smuggling.”

Cambodia, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Laos, Madagascar and Nigeria were designated as areas of serious concern regarding trade.

According to the agency, crime is often motivated by corruption and vice versa.

“FinCEN has identified a possible nexus between corruption activity and wildlife trafficking in SARs relating to 10 percent of wildlife trafficking,” the report said. “Corruption enables various forms of wildlife trafficking and occurs at many points in the wildlife supply chain. Corrupt activities include bribing foreign government officials, including forest rangers, shipping agents, customs officials and others – in exchange for information, Ignoring illegal activity, not prosecuting, or otherwise facilitating access to and transporting wildlife.

It is no longer individual actors running the illegal business, Finsen explained, but organized criminal networks at large.

The director of the US Fish and Wildlife Service stated that wildlife trafficking is “largely perpetrated by international criminal organizations that seek to illegally transfer large commercial volumes of well-structured, highly organized and large commercial volumes of wildlife and wildlife products and divert its proceeds.” able to legitimize.” April testimony before Congress.

The customers seem to be far more diverse.

“Many of the SARs identified by FinCEN’s analysis refer to private zoos, animal importers, breeders, pet shops, exotic parks, circuses, safari parks or hunting-related businesses,” the report said.

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