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HM Government of Gibraltar Logo Icon  What is Illicit Wildlife Trade?

Driven by profit and high demand, IWT is a transnational crime that every year generates a lucrative business worth up to £17bn from the proceeds of crime.  Organised Crime Groups use their networks to smuggle wildlife products and launder criminal proceeds, often using the same methods and techniques used in drugs, human and arms trafficking.

IWT not only destroys the planet’s biodiversity but it has a negative impact on economic and social development, affecting the livelihoods of communities that depend on wildlife. It undermines the rule of law, fosters corruption and creates huge criminal profits through other forms of serious organised crimes. Most of these vast profits are then laundered through global financial systems, using well-developed trade infrastructures with strong integration into the global economy, exploiting weaknesses in the financial and non-financial sectors.

Although there is no universally accepted definition of the term, the United Nations Office of Drugs (UNODC), defines the illicit wildlife trade (IWT) as the illegal trade, smuggling, poaching, capture, or collection of endangered species, protected wildlife (including animals or plants that are subject to harvest quotas and regulated by permits), derivatives, or products thereof. The FATF released a report titled, ‘Money Laundering and the Illegal Wildlife Trade’, in June 2020. The report provides guidance on measures that can be taken by countries to adopt good practices to combat the proceeds of crime derived from the IWT.

Egmont Centre of FIU Excellence and Leadership (ECOFEL)

The Egmont Centre of Excellence (ECOFEL) published a report which is intended to engage FIUs and relevant stakeholders in the fight against IWT. The report aims to provide stakeholders with an enhanced understanding of the financial aspects of wildlife crime; and to encourage a coordinated multi-disciplinary approach at the international, regional and national levels between and within key jurisdictions to tackle the financial elements of wildlife crime.

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