WWF, ACAMS Launch New Initiative Targeting Illegal Wildlife Trade

The partnership seeks to bridge gaps in the financial systems that criminals exploit to move, hide and launder the proceeds of the illegal trade in wildlife.

The WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature) and ACAMS have launched an initiative to empower compliance professionals to face the growing threats associated with the illegal wildlife trade.

Wildlife crime is estimated to be a USD 19 billion a year business, the fourth largest illegal trade business after firearms, human trafficking and drugs. It is run by highly sophisticated and organised criminal syndicates with financial expertise.

“The vast sums that can be generated by a single syndicate will typically move across multiple borders and through multiple entities, including traditional financial institutions,” said ACAMS interim president Angela Salter.

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The WWF-ACAMS partnership seeks to bridge gaps in the financial systems that criminals exploit to move, hide and launder the proceeds of the illegal trade in wildlife.

In particular, it seeks to drive collaboration among financial institutions, governmental bodies and non-profit groups in the fight against a major trans-national crime that fuels corruption and threatens biodiversity worldwide.

The project has three immediate goals:

  • to raise awareness of the issue through conferences, strategic roundtables, member engagement and other ACAMS forums and publications
  • to develop educational and training modules for public- and private-sector organisations
  • to create a compliance toolkit incorporating the red flags of illegal wildlife trade and the ACAMS Risk Assessment model

The initiative will also offer a free certificate outlining the steps financial sector actors should take to identify, report, mitigate and remedy the risks associated with each stage of an illegal wildlife supply chain.

The partnership aims to help financial intelligence units and compliance investigators and seeks the initiation of regional and national operations targeting suspicious transactions or ongoing cases with red flags for illegal wildlife trade financial flows.

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