A new financial crime guide released today will help businesses to combat Australia’s illegal wildlife trafficking trade by identifying, targeting and reporting suspicious financial activity.
The financial crime guide - developed by AUSTRAC’s public-private partnership the Fintel Alliance with the Department of Agriculture, Water and Environment – draws on intelligence collected from known instances of wildlife trafficking operations.
The guide aims to educate the businesses AUSTRAC regulates on how illegal wildlife trafficking operates, the ways it can be detected by suspicious financial activity and when they should report to AUSTRAC.
The illegal wildlife trade is big business for organised criminal syndicates, generating revenues of up to $23 billion a year globally.
In Australia, native reptiles are overwhelmingly the most trafficked Australian native live animal. International black-market prices for Australian reptiles can be more than 28 times the domestic price of native lizards, selling for AUD$1000 – $20,000 when illegally trafficked compared to $100 - $400 when sold legally.
AUSTRAC’s Chief Executive Officer, Nicole Rose PSM said organised criminals use services provided by financial institutions to move and disguise illicit funds, so the private sector has a crucial role to play in stopping the cruel and illegal trade in trafficking Australia’s animals.
“The illegal wildlife trade is another avenue for criminal syndicates to seek profit, this time at the expense of our wildlife, with animals transported in inhumane conditions that are often fatal. These traffickers are also often involved in other organised criminal activities that impact our community, such as identity and financial fraud,” Ms Rose said.
Australia’s Chief Environmental Biosecurity Officer, Ian Thompson said collaboration with AUSTRAC and law enforcement partners is critical to disrupting this cruel and illegal activity.
“The expert financial intelligence and insights provided by the financial industry, AUSTRAC and Fintel Alliance partners have significantly enhanced our ability to detect, understand and respond to organised criminal activity impacting on Australia’s unique wildlife.”