This week, a leading anti-wildlife trafficking NGO called on COP26 to integrate a sustainable wildlife trade approach to address the global climate crisis; the chair of Nigeria’s anti-corruption body urged the West African economic community to stem multi-billion dollar losses to illegal wildlife trade; and in Russia, Moscow’s tallest skyscraper is alleged to house a number of companies guilty of ransomware crime.
Find out more on these stories below.
UN’s COP26 representatives implored by leading NGO to make sustainable wildlife trade a climate change priority
This week in Glasgow, attendee countries at COP26 – the UN’s 26th Climate Change Conference of Parties – were urged to upgrade wildlife trafficking to a priority focus in the fight against Climate Change.
The call was made to the United Nations member states represented at the 26th conference of its kind by veteran Cambridge-based sustainable wildlife trade NGO, TRAFFIC.
The conference brought UN world leaders together to thrash out a solution to the worldwide climate crisis. TRAFFIC urged attendees to recognise the importance of understanding how the climate crisis impacts wildlife and the environment, and to implement practical climate change adaption strategies.
Although the COP26 was another encouraging sign of international co-operation in the fight against climate change, it remains an existential threat to the planet. Extreme weather events such as floods and wildfires are still increasing in frequency and intensity across the globe, ravaging ecosystems, wildlife, communities and economies. It is estimated that wildlife poaching and trafficking alone threatens over 7,000 species around the world, generating illegal proceeds of up to $20b (£14.8b) annually.
Illegal wildlife trade is one of the biggest threats to wildlife, particularly some of Big Five in Africa such as rhino, elephant and lion. The African elephant population has fallen by over 30% in the past seven years, largely due to poaching.
Summing up TRAFFIC’s position, Executive Director Richard Scobey said that “promoting wildlife trade that is legal and sustainable, and tackling illegal and unsustainable resource use, can help countries make the shift to resilient, green economies that provide positive economic and environmental returns."
Read more on this story at TRAFFIC.
West African countries urged to step up fight against regional illegal wildlife trade
Echoing similar themes highlighted at COP26, West African countries were also urged this week to step up the fight against regional illegal wildlife trade at an anti-money laundering conference in Nigeria.
The chairman of Nigeria’s Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC), Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye, made the call to representatives of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). He was speaking at an annual public lecture of the region’s Inter-Governmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA), which was held this year in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja.
He noted that corruption remains a crippling challenge throughout the GIABA region, with Nigeria alone contributing disproportionately to the estimated $80b (£59.3b) in illicit financial flows (IFFs) drained from the continent each year. Meanwhile, illegal trafficking in wildlife and wildlife parts, such as pangolins and elephant tusks, are thought to have cost GIABA members billions of dollars.
Pointing to the way forward, he added that "West Africa needs to pursue a multi-track strategy to surmount the daunting challenges posed by economic and financial crimes. The fortune of generations unborn relies on the actions that we take today."
Read more on this story at This Day.
Crypto trade companies operating from Moscow’s tallest skyscraper reach dizzying heights of financial crime
This week, Russia has been engulfed in a storm of allegations pertaining to money laundering, and other cybercrime - this time against four companies housed in Moscow’s 97-floor Vostok Tower, a hybrid commercial centre of offices, boutique shops, a luxury hotel, and high-end apartments.
The companies - Suex OTC, EggChange, Buy-bitcoin.pro, and CashBank - are thought to have engaged in money laundering and ransomware-related criminal activities pertaining to hundreds of millions of dollars:
- Suex OTC is alleged to have illicitly processed $160m (£118.5m) over three years
- EggChange is being investigated on money laundering charges by regulators in the US and Europe
- Buy-bitcoin.pro is accused of handling thousands in ransomware funds, with darknet market Hydra cited
- CashBank is supposedly inappropriately associated with accounts previously flagged as suspicious
Early in 2021, a report released by the US Office of the Director of National Intelligence alleged that Russian spies, likely acting directly on President Putin’s instruction, attempted to sway the 2020 US presidential election in favour of then-incumbent Donald Trump, and in October 2021, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) warned companies of expanded sanctions to discourage facilitating ransomware payments. These moves possibly indicate Pres. Biden’s determination to tighten controls in cryptocurrency trading to combat ransomware and other cybercrime.
Read more on this story at DeCrypt.