NGO Urges Chinese Online Platforms to Help Fight Illegal Wildlife Trade
Damir Beslija, Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project
January 6, 2022
A non-governmental organization monitoring the trade in wild animals and
plants urged Chinese online platforms to implement anti-money laundering
(AML) strategies to uncover online wildlife trafficking networks and stop
criminals from using the platforms for illegal trade.
The networks have been found to use Chinese online payment services in
order to sell illegally obtained wildlife products in China and abroad.
The non-governmental organization TRAFFIC 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 wildlife
and forest crimes.
As an example, Tencent, a Chinese multinational entertainment conglomerate
and holdings company, noticed that criminals might be using its online
payment service WeChat pay and joined TRAFFIC and Guangdong Forest Police
Bureau to improve its AML team’s capacity.
Tencent Chengdu Office recently organized a training session for its staff
within TRAFFIC's Training of Trainer (TOT) Module. Participants went
through relevant laws, regulations, and methods of illegal transactions
used in wildlife and forest crime. In addition, the session aimed at
improving identification skills for species commonly traded online.
TRAFFIC AML Project Manager, Linda Chou, said that her organization was
“glad to see that Tencent has started to pay close attention to the use of
AML approach in fighting against wildlife crime, but the overall awareness
and skills applied in China’s financial sectors still need to be further
raised and improved.”
“In China, investigations and prosecutions still rely primarily on charges
for poaching or trafficking,” she said. “At the same time, financial crimes
are mostly overlooked and not fully utilised as a tool to identify and
bring those who profit most from wildlife crime to justice.”
Director of TRAFFIC China, Ling XU, said this was the first time that
Chinese law enforcement authority exchanged views with the private sector
on combating international wildlife trade through AML approach and that
this 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,
support global biodiversity conservation,” XU said.