Transnational organised wildlife crime rakes in billions of dollars in revenue each year. To raise awareness of the pressing need for governments to address these crimes, Olivia Swaak-Goldman, Executive Director of the Wildlife Justice Commission, appeared on a recent episode of the Financial Crime Matters podcast by ACAMS – the largest international membership organization for Anti-Financial Crime professionals.
Speaking to ACAMS’s Chief Financial Analyst and podcast host Kieran Beer, Olivia Swaak-Goldman discussed the significant role corruption plays in enabling the illegal financial activities surrounding wildlife crime.
‘Wildlife crime wouldn’t be there without corruption, without fraud, without money laundering … You can’t get the shipments out unless you’re either bribing somebody or you have fraudulent documents, or you steal legitimate documents from a third party – so that kind of fraud is essential,’ she said, adding that corruption is essential to the supply chain.
When discussing effective tools for identifying corruption and – therefore – dismantling criminal networks, intelligence-led investigations were highlighted as key to bringing down the most impactful offenders and bringing forward successful prosecutions. In addition to sharing intelligence with law enforcement agencies, Olivia Swaak-Goldman particularly mentioned the importance of having governments share intelligence with each other, given the transnational nature of these criminal networks and how easily these crimes can displace to other geographic regions.
Apart from preventing biodiversity loss, Olivia Swaak-Goldman stressed several economic benefits of combating wildlife and environmental crime, including asset seizures and tax revenue. By involving multiple authorities, such as customs and tax agencies, governments can work ‘together in a coordinated and holistic way to address these crimes.’
Listen to the full episode below: