The guide offers indicators FIs can use in profiling and transaction monitoring to target, identify and stop financial transactions associated with illegal wildlife trafficking.
AUSTRAC has released a new financial crime guide to help regulated entities in identifying, targeting and reporting suspicious financial activity related to Australia’s illegal wildlife trafficking trade.
The financial crime guide was developed by AUSTRAC’s public-private partnership, the Fintel Alliance, with the Department of Agriculture, Water and Environment, drawing on intelligence collected from known instances of wildlife trafficking operations.
“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.”
In Australia, it is legal to trade Australian native animals domestically with the appropriate licences and permits. However, it is illegal to trade Australian native animals to overseas markets. International black market prices show that native reptiles, the most trafficked Australian native live animal, can fetch more than 28 times the domestic price.
The guide aims to educate regulated entities on how illegal wildlife trafficking operates, how criminals exploit financial services to enable their activities. “Criminals rely on financial services to enable their activities, so the financial sector plays an important role in protecting Australian native species against exploitation both domestically and abroad,” it says.
The guide also offers indicators and behaviours that can be used by financial institutions to review their profiling and transaction monitoring programmes to target, identify and stop financial transactions associated with illegal wildlife trafficking.
“On its own, one of these indicators may not suggest illegal activity,” the guide says. “However, if you notice a combination of these indicators or observe other activity that raises suspicion, consider submitting a suspicious matter report to AUSTRAC.”
The full guide is available here.