The Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA) recently hosted senior executives from Standard Chartered Bank to discuss how financial institutions and regulators can work together to help curb illegal wildlife trade and disrupt the flow of illegal funds arising from this predicate crime.
David Fein, Group General Counsel at Standard Chartered and Vice-Chair of the Financial Taskforce of the UK Royal Foundation of ‘United for Wildlife’ campaign which is under The Duke of Cambridge’s presidency along with Sunil Kaushal, Regional Chief Executive Officer for Africa and Middle East visited the DFSA with their teams to highlight the measures being taken by global entities, including Standard Chartered, to combat illegal wildlife trade as part of an overall financial crime prevention framework.
The illegal trade in elephant ivory, rhino horns, pangolin scales, tiger bones, bear bile and rosewood are reported as leading to the extinction of some of the world’s magnificent and sometimes lesser-known species. Illegal wildlife trade also impacts the financial services sector as the unwitting conduit for the movement of proceeds of illegal wildlife trade.
In addition to being a major risk to endangered wildlife species, illegal wildlife trade impacts economies by destroying natural and human resources and eroding society’s social capital. Illegal wildlife trade also creates a false economy of dependence based on illegal activities making it more difficult to combat in poverty stricken jurisdictions.
As of 2017, the global value of illegal wildlife trade was quoted at $26 billion according to data published by the United Nations (UN). The UN considers wildlife crime as one of the largest transnational organised criminal activities alongside drug, arms and human trafficking. Illegal wildlife trafficking is now one of the world's top criminal activities, ranked alongside drugs, arms, and human trafficking.
The DFSA’s support of the worldwide campaign against illegal wildlife trade builds on Dubai’s concerted efforts to combat the illegal wildlife trade. Over the years, several Dubai Government entities have initiated programmes to raise awareness and counter the illegal practice.
Bryan Stirewalt, Chief Executive of the DFSA, commented: “The discussion led by Mr. Fein was insightful and provided a well-rounded view on the global efforts to curb illegal wildlife trade. As a government entity committed to promoting sustainable practices and preserving our natural environment, we are keen to partner in campaigns against illegal wildlife trade. Since our inception, we have identified financial crime as a top risk and have continuously assigned resources and efforts to fight it. Through our support to programmes such as this, we want to raise awareness about the practice in financial circles and highlight that we have a zero-tolerance policy to any act that supports the illicit trade. We all have a role to play and no one’s contribution to this fight is too small.”
Rola Abu Manneh, Chief Executive Officer of Standard Chartered Bank, UAE, commented: “For too long, illegal wildlife trafficking has been viewed solely as a conservation issue. In reality, it’s a transnational organised crime with links to the trades in narcotics and arms. The UAE is well positioned to play a leading role in fighting the illegal wildlife trade and we, as an international bank that is deeply rooted in this country, are committed to supporting this fight By following the money, financial institutions can help map the criminal networks and provide law enforcement with vital intelligence to support their investigations and prosecutions. We are pleased to be in dialogue with the DFSA about what more can be done, as an industry, to tackle this crime.” she added.
The DFSA’s dialogue with Standard Chartered also highlights the social responsibility of individuals and organisations to contribute to the well-being of humanity and the natural environment.
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