Banks sign up to William’s mission to disrupt illegal wildlife trade

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Barclays, HSBC and the Royal Bank of Scotland are among financial institutions backing a move led by the Duke of Cambridge to tackle the illegal wildlife trade.

The financial institutions have signed up to a declaration agreeing to “not knowingly facilitate or tolerate” the flow of money from trade in poached animal products such as elephant tusks, rhino horn and pangolin scales.

They are also committing to sharing resources and intelligence to disrupt income generated by the illegal wildlife trade, a global organised crime that is worth up to 23 billion US dollars (£18 billion) a year.

The “Mansion House Declaration” is being unveiled ahead of an international conference on the illegal wildlife trade hosted by the UK Government, at which William is to give the keynote speech.

The declaration is part of the duke’s charity United For Wildlife’s financial taskforce meeting on Wednesday, which initially includes representatives from 30 global banks, financial institutions and other organisations.

Lord Hague, chairman of the taskforce, said: “The illegal wildlife trade has grown substantially in recent years, despite considerable international efforts, and poaching rates for many species are still increasing to feed the growing criminal demand.

“Traffickers are brazenly exploiting global financial systems to move the proceeds of their crimes, remaining under the radar of investigation and law enforcement.

“Financial institutions can, therefore, play a crucial role in disrupting such criminal activities and ending the illegal wildlife trade.”

David Fein, group general counsel at Standard Chartered and vice-chairman 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 combating other devastating crimes, such as human trafficking and terrorist financing.”

The declaration lays out six commitments, which also include providing training to identify and investigate suspicious activity and increasing awareness of how the financial industry can combat the illegal trade.

Signatories include Citigroup, City of London, JP Morgan Chase, MoneyGram International and Western Union, as well as the UK’s Department for International Development and wildlife trade organisation Traffic.

It follows United For Wildlife’s transportation taskforce and the Buckingham Palace Declaration, with more than 100 organisations including shipping companies and airlines signing up to tackle the illegal trade in the transport sector.

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