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FATF Calls for Global Action on Environmental Crime

Task Force partners with international organisations to focus on money laundering, data collection and company transparency.

The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) is calling for a global push to take the illicit profits out of environmental crimes.

At a high-level FATF conference involving the public, private, not-for-profit sectors and academia, FATF president Marcus Pleyer said money laundering linked to environmental crime is an often overlooked part of a much larger solution to helping save the climate. “At the moment, far too often, criminals and their gangs are getting away with it. They make billions from looting our planet.”

Environmental crimes generate an estimated US$110 to US$281 billion in criminal gains each year, including through illegal logging, illegal mining, waste dumping and other crimes, the FATF says.

In addition, the FATF says, transnational crime gangs involved in environmental crimes and wildlife trafficking often commit other serious crime such as drug trafficking, illicit arms smuggling and human trafficking.

Under its German Presidency, the FATF has made it a priority to help countries ‘follow the money’ linked to environmental crimes, to identify and disrupt the organised criminal networks involved.

The conference focused on how countries and the private sector can assess their exposure to financial flows from environmental crimes, as well as how countries, international organisations and private sector can work together to combat this threat.

Speakers at the conference pointed to the need to prioritise collection of data, anti-corruption efforts and effective implementation of the FATF Standards, including on transparency of company ownership, as key areas for action.

“The FATF Standards already require that countries criminalise money laundering for a range of environmental crimes and the FATF has added several examples of environmental crimes to the FATF Glossary to clarify for countries the types of offences that fall within this category,” Pleyer said. “The FATF will continue to engage and work with its partners to help countries follow the money linked to environmental crime, including through the FATF’s mutual evaluation process.”

The FATF will report back on the outcomes of the conference to its members at the next FATF plenary in February 2022.

The conference marked the first time the heads of international organisations – including the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), UN Environment Programme (UNEP), and Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) – met with the FATF to discuss how to develop partnerships to tackle the problem of illicit money helping to fuel environmental crimes.

The UNODC said it plans to launch a new training tool for investigators on the complex linkages in the wildlife crime supply chain, as part of its ongoing global efforts to provide training on financial investigations linked to environmental crime.

At the conference, the Duke of Cambridge, Prince William, called on the public and private sectors to act on the findings of the FATF’s reports on environmental crime and the illegal wildlife trade, which provide a toolkit to “combat these threats to our planet”.

“Countries need to make it a priority to follow the money from environmental crimes including the illegal wildlife trade,” he said. “Now is the time for action. We need to draw on the collective expertise across the public, private and not-for-profit sectors to identify these criminal networks and bring them to justice.”

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