Breaking! Financial Organizations Sign United For Wildlife Declaration To Support Prince William’s Efforts To Combat Illegal Wildlife Trade

The Duke of Cambridge, President of United for Wildlife, hosted a meeting today with the newly-formed United for Wildlife Financial Taskforce.

Initially comprising of representatives from 30 global banks and financial organizations such as Standard Chartered, HSBC, RBS, and Bank of America Merrill Lynch, the signatories of the new Mansion House Declaration have committed to “contributing to the global fight against Illegal Wildlife Trade.”

The declaration includes commitments to sharing resources and intelligence in a bid to disrupt the illegal income generated by poached animal products such as elephant tusks, rhino horn, and pangolin scales.

“The illegal wildlife trade has grown substantially in recent years, despite considerable international efforts, and poaching rates for many species are still increasing to feed the growing criminal demand,” Chair of the Taskforce, Lord Hague of Richmond said in a statement. “Traffickers are brazenly exploiting global financial systems to move the proceeds of their crimes, remaining under the radar of investigation and law enforcement. It will take a truly global approach, with multiple organizations and sectors working together, to eradicate this barbaric trade and I am delighted that the financial sector is now committing its much needed support to do so.”

Illegal wildlife trade is among the five most lucrative global crimes and often run by highly organized criminal networks. The finance sector can become involved, often unwittingly, with those who traffic illegal wildlife products; this is why United For Wildlife is working to identify actions the financial sector can take to detect and stop illegal wildlife trade, and intercept the financial gains driving it.

Using existing frameworks for tackling global financial crime, alongside initiatives which some financial institutions are already utilizing to tackle IWT, a bank-led experts group comprising of representatives from financial organizations, legal advisors and technical experts has created the Declaration which outlines six commitments:

1. Increasing awareness of how the financial industry can combat illegal wildlife trade
2. Providing training to identify and investigate suspicious activity
3. Providing intelligence to regulatory bodies and law enforcement agencies
4. Reviewing intelligence alerts received through the Taskforce and taking appropriate actions
5. Considering additional actions such as policy amendments
6. Supporting and promoting the work of the Taskforce and external supporting mechanisms

This signing ceremony took place ahead of the international Illegal Wildlife Trade Conference, which is being hosted in London by the UK Government on October 11th and 12th.

“By following the money, financial institutions can help map the criminal networks and provide law enforcement with vital intelligence to support their investigations and prosecutions,” David Fein, Group General Council for Standard Chartered and Vice Chair of the Transport Taskforce said in a statement. “We want to take the fight to the traffickers, by using the tools and experience the financial sector has learned from combating other devastating crimes, such as human trafficking and terrorist financing.”

The creation of the Financial Taskforce follows on from the success of the of United for Wildlife’s Transportation Taskforce, and the signing of the Buckingham Palace Declaration in March 2016, which saw global transport industry leaders come together to identify ways the transport sector can close down criminal supply routes, and thwart the traffickers as part of efforts to address the urgent poaching crisis.

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