This is a picture of a Black Rhinoceros. It is one of two Rhinoceros species in Africa. It is estimated that there were approximately 125,000 Black Rhinoceroses in 1960. Now, there are less than 6,000. Three subspecies are already extinct. Although loss of habitat is certainly a contributing factor, much of this decimation is attributable to poaching and the illegal wildlife trade (“IWT”).
The Financial Action Task Force (“FATF”) just released an important report entitled Money Laundering and the Illegal Wildlife Trade (the “Report”). The lengthy and detailed Report makes clear that the IWT is pernicious cocktail of animal slaughter/abuse and complex financial crime, often run by highly organized groups that thrive on international cooperation by complicit actors and the use of shell companies. The Report bemoans the fact that the IWT benefits from a lack of focus and priority by law enforcement. Accordingly, the Report seeks to spread awareness of the IWT, provide general guidance on combatting it, and propose action steps. One theme of the Report is that effectively combatting the IWT requires financial investigations and money laundering charges.
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