In an unprecedented move, global financial organisations have joined together to sign the 'Mansion House Declaration' as part of United for Wildlife’s Financial Taskforce meeting on Wednesday 10th October, agreeing that they "will not knowingly facilitate or tolerate financial flows that are derived from illegal wildlife trade (IWT)
and associated corruption".
The declaration includes commitments to sharing resources and intelligence in a bid to disrupt the illegal income generated by poached animal products such as elephant tusks, rhino horn and pangolin scales.
The IWT is an organised crime on a global scale, estimated to be worth up to $23 billion annually, and is linked to money laundering, corruption and extreme violence, as well as the trafficking of drugs and weapons.
The Financial Taskforce is being convened by His Royal Highness Prince William through his charity United for Wildlife, which is run by The Royal Foundation. The Taskforce will be chaired by Lord Hague of Richmond, and will initially comprise of representatives from 30 global banks and financial organisations such as Standard Chartered, HSBC, RBS and Bank of America, and agencies and regulatory bodies including TRAFFIC and RUSI.
Using existing frameworks for tackling global financial crime, alongside initiatives which some financial institutions are already utilising to tackle IWT, a bank-led experts group comprising of representatives from financial organisations, legal advisors and technical experts has created the Mansion House Declaration which outlines six commitments:
- Increasing awareness of how the financial industry can combat IWT
- Providing training to identify and investigate suspicious activity
- Providing intelligence to regulatory bodies and law enforcement agencies 4. Reviewing intelligence alerts received through the Taskforce and taking appropriate actions 5. Considering additional actions such as policy amendments
- Supporting and promoting the work of the Taskforce and external supporting mechanisms The Declaration follows on from the success of United for Wildlife’s Transportation Taskforce, and the Buckingham Palace Declaration.
Since the launch of the Transportation Taskforce, more than 100 organisations, including shipping and airline companies, law enforcement, trade bodies and NGOs, have signed the Buckingham Palace Declaration, committing to combat IWT in the transport sector.
Taskforce members have delivered specific counter-IWT training to more than 25,000 front line staff, contributed to 5 seizures of wildlife products worth over $500,000, and assisted with more than 32 law enforcement investigations and the arrests of 8 wildlife traffickers.
Chair of the Taskforce, Lord Hague of Richmond said: “It will take a truly global approach, with multiple organisations and sectors working together, to eradicate this barbaric trade and so I am delighted that the financial sector is now committing its much needed support to do so."
David Fein, Group General Counsel at Standard Chartered and Vice-Chair of the Taskforce said: “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 want to take the fight to the traffickers, by using the tools and experience the financial sector has learned from combatting other devastating crimes, such as human trafficking and terrorist financing.”