JOHANNESBURG – The financial system must become attuned to the activity related to illegal wildlife trade and apply the armoury of tools that it uses to fight other financial crimes, the chief executive of banking group Standard Chartered in southern Africa has said.
In a statement, Kweku Bedu-Addo said the financial sector should get involved to turn the tide of endangered species being driven to the point of extinction by the demand for illicit products.
"This isn’t simply a conservation issue. The reality is that the illegal wildlife trade is an organised crime which fuels violence, drives corruption, and impoverishes communities," Bedu-Addo said.
"It is a mistake to think we can just arrest our way out of this problem. Where one shipment is stopped, another will take its place. Instead, we need to disrupt the business model behind the trade. Its Achilles heel is the very thing that motivates it – the money. The need to move, store and realise proceeds gives governments and the financial sector the power to identify criminal networks via their financial footprints and help close the net."
Research shows illegal wildlife trade is worth between $7 billion (R104bn) and $23 billion annually to the criminals behind it and is often linked to other crime, with two-thirds of the cases analysed connected to the narcotics trade.