Non-governmental organization monitoring wild animal and plant trade urged Chinese online platforms to implement anti-money laundering (AML) strategies to uncover online wildlife trafficking networks and prevent criminals from using the platforms for illegal trading.
The networks were discovered to use Chinese online payment services in order to sell illegally obtained wildlife products in China and abroad.
The non-governmental organization TRAFFIC has suggested that Chinese banks and online platforms implement an anti-money laundering strategy called “follow the money”. This would allow them to identify groups involved in crimes against wildlife and forests.
As an example, Tencent, a Chinese multinational entertainment conglomerate and holding company, noticed that criminals could use its online payment service WeChat Pay and joined TRAFFIC and the Guangdong Forest Police Bureau to improve performance. capacity of its AML team.
The Tencent Chengdu office recently held a training session for its staff as part of TRAFFIC’s Training of Trainers (TOT) module. Participants reviewed relevant laws, regulations and illegal transaction methods used in wildlife and forest related crime. In addition, the session aimed to improve identification skills of species commonly traded online.
TRAFFIC AML Project Leader Linda Chou said her organization was “happy to see Tencent started paying close attention to using the AML approach in the fight against wildlife crime, but Awareness and soft skills applied in Chinese financial sectors still need to be further increased and improved.
“In China, investigations and prosecutions are still mainly based on charges of poaching or trafficking,” she said. “At the same time, financial crimes are mostly overlooked and not fully utilized as a tool to identify and bring to justice those who profit most from wildlife crime. “
TRAFFIC China Director Ling XU said it was the first time that Chinese law enforcement authorities had exchanged views with the private sector on tackling international wildlife trade through of an anti-money laundering approach and that it was a “very positive step in the right direction”.
“TRAFFIC continues to provide the platform for cooperation and communication between the Chinese private sector, financial industry and law enforcement agencies to combat wildlife crime networks and, in turn, supporting the conservation of global biodiversity, ”said XU.