Chinese online platforms should consider implementing anti-money laundering (AML) methods by monitoring cash flows to prevent illegal wildlife trade and help uncover large-scale criminal networks that are negatively impacting species and ecosystems globally, according to TRAFFIC.

Following the online market for a long time, TRAFFIC found that criminals often take advantage of China’s online payment services to sell illegal wildlife products domestically and internationally. However, if backed by Chinese banks and online platforms, anti-money-laundering strategies can play an important role in increasing wildlife trafficking risks and identifying networks. wider crime network.

China’s Tencent Group has now begun to pay attention to using an anti-money laundering approach in the fight against wildlife crime, but the overall awareness and skills applied in the financial sector are China needs to be enhanced, further improved. In China, investigations and prosecutions are still largely based on allegations of poaching or smuggling, and financial crimes are mostly overlooked and not subjected to the in-depth investigation to identify and expose the perpetrators. The biggest beneficiaries of wildlife trafficking are brought to justice, said TRAFFIC AML project manager Linda Chou.

Pangolins protect their soft belly by curling up, but this behavior makes them good prey for hunters. Photo: African Pangolin Working Group.

To address this challenge, TRAFFIC is developing guidance on AML implementation for law enforcement and law enforcement agencies, and working with global financial crime organization ACAMS to develop a training module for financial institutions and third-party payment platforms.

Tencent was one of the platforms that participated in the training program as it soon realized that the WeChat pay mobile payment service could be used by criminals to launder money from the illegal wildlife trade. In 2019, Tencent received nearly 10,000 reports of illegal wildlife trade from WeChat users. A total of 2,000 WeChat accounts with banned wildlife products were warned or closed. With the support of Tencent, law enforcement broke down a criminal network and arrested 129 suspects, capturing 216 live pangolins, 66 kg of pangolin scales, 20 antelope horns and a variety of products. other wildlife products, and confiscated more than 18 million yuan in 2018.

In order to improve the capacity of the AML team in preventing illegal wildlife trade, Tencent has partnered with TRAFFIC and the Guangdong Provincial Forest Police Department. At the training session in Tencent Chengdu, TRAFFIC highlighted relevant legal regulations, payment methods or criminal transactions used in wildlife and forest crime, as well as skills in identifying common species traded online to Tencent’s AML team and the customer service staff responsible for handling wildlife trafficking reports.

Training session on December 15, 2021 for AML staff at Tencent Chengdu Office (Photo: TRAFFIC)

Guangdong Provincial Forest Police also shared challenges in cracking down on illegal wildlife trade online and implementing cash flow monitoring in wildlife crime investigation, and suggested strengthening cooperation between law enforcement and Tencent to detect wildlife smuggling on WeChat and monitor suspicious transactions related to this problem.

“This is the first time that Chinese law enforcement has exchanged views with the private sector on combating wildlife trafficking through an AML approach, and it is a very positive step,” said the director. TRAFFIC China director Ling XU said.

Reportedly, TRAFFIC’s AML team wants to expand its reach to all types of environmental crime and foster multi-stakeholder collaboration to improve information exchange and the team’s capacity to combat wildlife. wildlife and forest crime.

Source: Bao ve Rung va Moi truong

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