●‘Money Laundering and the Illegal Wildlife Trade’ report : by FATF
•Recently, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) has released the first global report on the Illegal Wildlife Trade (IWT) named, “Money Laundering and the Illegal Wildlife Trade”
•The report has also described Illegal Wildlife Trade (IWT) as a “global threat”, which also has links with other organised crimes like modern slavery, drug trafficking and arms trade
•The illegal trade is estimated to generate revenues of up to $23 billion a year
•It has been observed that the criminals are relying on “established” methods to launder proceeds from IWT, including mobile or social media-based payments, third party payments and the placement and layering of funds through the formal financial sector.
【The report comes amid increasing international concern that the crime could lead to more zoonotic diseases in the future】
•Usually, the countries that are rich in biodiversity and/or where there may be weaker law enforcement oversight and criminal justice are treated as source countries for IWT.
•Similarly, most parties involved in such crime transit the wildlife through other countries to blur the exact end destination.
•Transit countries typically include trade and transport hubs or countries with higher levels of corruption. The laundering of the proceeds occurs across source, transit and destination countries.
•The spread of zoonotic diseases underlines the importance of ensuring that wildlife is traded in a legal, safe and sustainable manner and that countries remove the profitability of illegal markets.
•The exact connection between the trading of pangolins and its scales to the Covid-19 outbreak is yet to be established but it has been noted that the price of pangolins has increased between 100% to 600% mark-up.
Further, India has also been a source country for illegal pangolin trading.
•The countries should consider implementing the good practices which include providing all relevant agencies with the necessary mandate and tools; and cooperating with other countries, international bodies and the private sector.
The legislative changes are necessary to increase the applicability of anti-money laundering laws to the illegal wildlife trade-linked offences.
•India amended the Prevention of Money Laundering Act in 2012 removing a value threshold — of ₹30 lakh and above — that was earlier applicable to the wildlife trade predicates.
•It has suggested treating IWT as money laundering offences since the proceeds enter the global market through money laundering and also money laundering offences carry more severe penalties in many countries.