FinCEN Observes Increase in Wildlife Trafficking SARs

Suspicious activity reports related to wildlife trafficking—which includes the illicit trade of protected animals, animal parts and derivatives thereof in violation of international or domestic law, and associated money laundering activity—“trended significantly up” between 2018 and 2020, and are expected to increase even more in 2021, FinCEN said in a new threat analysis released today. Depository institutions filed two-thirds of SARs related to wildlife trafficking.

FinCEN said it is calling attention to wildlife trafficking due to its strong association with corruption and transnational criminal organizations, a need to enhance the reporting and analysis of related illicit financial transactions, and wildlife trafficking’s contribution to biodiversity loss, damage to fragile ecosystems and the increased likelihood of spreading zoonotic diseases.

In its analysis of SAR reports, FinCEN identified at least five indicators linked to potential illicit activity of this kind, including: prevalence of import-export and logistics companies; transactions involving wildlife-associated entities; transactions referencing wildlife-associated care or equipment; convergence with gold, jewelry, precious metals and antiquities; and overt or covert references to wildlife, wildlife parts or wildlife products.