South Africa and the United States have agreed to establish a taskforce to crackdown on wildlife poaching and trafficking by plugging the sources of finance used by syndicates involved in the vice, visiting US Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen said on Thursday.Yellen said the US Department of the Treasury and South Africa’s National Treasury have agreed to form a US-South Africa Task Force on Combating the Financing of Wildlife Trafficking which work to combat illicit finance linked to illegal wildlife trade.
“To protect wildlife populations from further poaching and disrupt the associated illicit trade, we must ‘follow the money’ in the same way we do with other serious crimes,” Yellen said.
She said the work of the taskforce would include identifying and seizing the proceeds generated from illegal wildlife trade as well as disrupting money laundering and cross-border transactions of the transnational criminal organizations often involved in—and who benefit from—corruption.
Among other activities, the task force is expected to share “financial red flags and indicators” related to wildlife trafficking cases, especially those involving the US and South Africa financial systems.
The South African Anti-Money Laundering Integrated Task Force, a public-private partnership, would play a key role in this regard, working in collaboration with the US Department of the Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network.
The task force is also expected to strengthen information-sharing between financial intelligence units in South Africa and the US to better support law enforcement agencies from the two countries.
This would strengthen law enforcement efforts to use financial investigations to pursue and recover the illicit proceeds of wildlife criminals, especially transnational criminal organisations fuelling and benefiting from corruption and the trafficking of, among other things, rhino horns, pangolins and elephant ivory.