Standard Chartered Trains Tellers to Help Fight Wildlife Crime

(Bloomberg) -- Poachers beware: Standard Chartered Plc is coming for you and is urging other banks to do the same.

The lender is training bank-branch tellers to spot transactions that could be linked to the illegal wildlife trade and has made them a focus for its financial-crime investigators, said Kweku Bedu-Addo, chief executive officer for Standard Chartered Southern Africa. It is also educating its clients about the threat.

“This isn’t simply a conservation issue - the reality is that the illegal wildlife trade is an organized crime which fuels violence, drives corruption, and impoverishes communities,” Bedu-Addo said in an emailed statement.

Illicit wildlife trade has an estimated annual worth of as much as $23 billion, according to the Zoological Society of London’s website. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime found in a 2017 report that only 26% of the 45 jurisdictions it surveyed investigated the financial flows behind the crime.

“The need to move, store and realize proceeds gives governments and the financial sector the power to identify criminal networks via their financial footprints and help close the net,” Bedu-Addo said. The finance industry must “become attuned to the activity that courses through the system and apply the armory of tools that they use to fight other financial crimes.”

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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