The Pangolin is the world’s most trafficked mammal – an animal that due to extreme poaching may become extinct. Like elephants and rhinos, the pangolin is a victim to a high black market demand in Asia for its scales – rather than ivory – that are believed to have medicinal properties. On the black market traffickers can earn millions of dollars for pangolins and their scales. Officials in Africa and Asia are working to combat the illegal trade of these animals, however, success in this endeavor also ties to financial institutions.
Financial institutions should factor this form of trafficking among the others. Wildlife trafficking is not exclusive to animals, it can involve plants as well. Identifying the patterns require financial institutions to account for the many unrelated industries that may be involved – animals can be trafficked for:
- Clothing – textile industry
- Food – restaurant industry
- Medicine – pharmaceutical industry
Many industry experts believe that success in identifying and curtailing wildlife trafficking comes from implementing internal controls used to combat trade-based money laundering. As evidenced by the many different ways criminals money launder and terrorists are financed – combating even the seemingly more obscure methods of money laundering is equally critical. Financial institutions – not just in the wildlife trafficking hot-spots of Asia and Africa - should consider integrating the relevant policies, procedures and processes into their AML/BSA compliance programs.
The illegal trade in wildlife is the fourth largest illegal trade after drugs, arms and human trafficking, and seizures of pangolin body parts continue.