HAMMANSKRAAL, South Africa, Jan 25 (Reuters) – The U.S. Department of the Treasury and the South African National Treasury agreed on Wednesday to form a task force to tackle illicit financing linked to the illegal wildlife trade, said US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen.
Speaking at the Dinoken Game Reserve outside Pretoria, Yellen told South African officials that the new task force aims to enhance information sharing between the two countries’ financial intelligence units and strengthen the controls to combat money laundering and the financing of terrorism.
The move comes as South African media reports that the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force (FATF), which sets standards to combat money laundering and wildlife trafficking, may add Africa du Sud to its gray list when it meets in February 2023.
Countries on the gray list are subject to increased scrutiny by the FATF, as they fear they may be exposed to a higher risk of money laundering and terrorist financing.
“Through closer collaboration to target illicit proceeds linked to wildlife trafficking, as well as overlapping criminal activities such as corruption, fraud and drug trafficking, we are taking a step in the right direction today. ‘today,” Yellen said after visiting the game reserve, which has suffered from poaching of wildlife, including rhinos, in the past.
“To help save wildlife populations from further poaching and disrupt the associated illicit trade, we need to ‘follow the money’ the same way we do for other serious crimes,” Yellen said. .
Yellen said the US Treasury was already working to provide intelligence on wildlife trafficking to law enforcement partners, and had also worked alongside South Africa with the FATF to identify associated indicators. money laundering and wildlife trafficking.
The work includes identifying and seizing proceeds generated by the illegal wildlife trade and obstructing money laundering and cross-border transactions by transnational criminal organizations often involved in corruption, she said.
“To have an impact against this harmful crime and the illicit financing that accompanies it, we must take the opportunity to build a coherent and sustainable approach,” Yellen said.
South Africa is the final leg of Yellen’s three-country Africa tour, part of the Biden administration’s efforts to deepen US economic ties with Africa and provide a counterbalance to China, which has dominated trade and investment on the continent over the past decades. .
Yellen is due to meet South African President Cyril Ramaphosa later on Wednesday.
Reporting by Andrea Shalal, editing by Sharon Singleton
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. United States Africa South form group work for fight against trafficking of wildlife declare Yellen