Money Laundering from Environmental Crime

 Environmental crime – such as forestry crime, illegal mining and waste trafficking – is an extremely profitable criminal enterprise, generating billions in criminal gains each year. It fuels corruption, and converges with many other serious and organised crimes, such as tax fraud, drug trafficking and forced labour.

20.05.2022 G7 Germany Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors´ Petersberg Communiqué

“We recognise that the fight against money laundering linked to environmental crimes can contribute to combatting climate change as well as the loss of biodiversity. We renew our commitment to address the risks of illicit finance from environmental crime and recognize them as a cross-cutting issue.”

G7 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors´ Petersberg Communiqué


28.06.2021 FATF: Money Laundering from Environmental Crime

Money Laundering from Environmental Crime

25.06.2020 FATF: Money Laundering and the Illegal Wildlife Trade

Money Laundering and the Illegal Wildlife Trade

10.09.2018 Interpol World Atlas of illicit flows / Environment

Combined, environmental crimes, including those that involve the sale or taxation of natural resources, account for 38% of the financing of conflicts and of non-state armed groups, including terrorist groups; followed by drugs (at 28%); other forms of illegal taxation, extortion, confiscation and looting (26%); external donations (3%); and money extorted through kidnapping (3%).1 This evidence-based report aims to quantify how these illicit flows finance the major non-state armed groups

See Environmental crime. The largest conflict finance sector page 15

World Atlas of Illicit Flows

03.01.2024 Global Fishing Watch Study reveals 75 percent of the world’s industrial fishing vessels are hidden from public view

New research harnesses AI and satellite imagery to reveal the expanding footprint of human activity at sea

05.01.2024 Heise: Dank Satellitenbildern und KI: Bislang unbekannte Fischereiflotten entdeckt

Thanks to satellite images and AI: previously unknown fishing fleets discovered

24.01.2024 Sentinel-1 and AI reveal 75% of fishing vessels not tracked

2024 OECD Global Anti-Corruption & Integrity Forum

26 – 27 March 2024

Democracies are under unprecedented internal and external pressures, and efforts to uphold integrity are more important than ever. Threats of foreign interference, the rise of artificial intelligence, and the speed and scale of climate change are giving rise to new corruption risks and increasing pressure on integrity frameworks. Strengthening these frameworks is essential to support government, the private sector and civil society in efficiently combating corruption and producing the best outcomes for the public.

The 2024 OECD Global Anti-Corruption & Integrity Forum will gather leaders from around the world to share new thinking, insights and evidence, and to explore how anti-corruption policies and integrity frameworks can enhance our ability to respond to the future challenges our democracies face. It will also mark the 25th Anniversary of the Anti-Bribery Convention, a cornerstone in the global fight against corruption, and a catalyst for policy change.

Fight Against Money Laundering And Terrorist Financing In The EU

The EU’s rules on anti money laundering and countering terrorist financing protect its financial system and contribute to security and growth.

EU fight against money laundering

Money laundering and the financing of terrorism are major concerns for the EU. They pose major risks to the EU’s economy and financial system and to the security of its citizens.

For over thirty years, the fight against money laundering and terrorist financing has been high on the EU’s political agenda, with the first anti-money-laundering directive (AMLD) being adopted in 1991. Since then, the directive has undergone several reforms.
Fight Against Terrorism

Euro banknotes hanging on a washing line.

NarcoFiles: The New Criminal Order

Drug trafficking is a globe-spanning business. Cocaine might start life at a plantation in Colombia before being repackaged in Mexico, processed in the Netherlands, and sold on to users as far away as Bulgaria. Markets are booming in Asia, Africa, and Australia, generating billions in illicit revenues that flow back across the world through bank wires, cash transfers, and other transactions.

But the harms are not felt equally. It is developing nations that are most often strangled by the drug trade’s tentacles of violence, corruption, environmental destruction, and economic instability. The borderless nature of these crimes — and the gangs and cartels behind them — requires cross-border cooperation by journalists trying to expose them.

NarcoFiles: The New Criminal Order, the largest investigative project of its kind to originate in Latin America, was launched with this in mind.

OCCRP, the Centro Latinoamericano de Investigación Periodística (CLIP), Vorágine, and Cerosetenta / 070 gained early access to the data from two organizations, Distributed Denial of Secrets and Enlace Hacktivista. They then shared the leak with more than 40 other media outlets. Journalists from over 23 countries worked on the investigation, chiefly in Latin America but also in Europe and the United States.

Using leads found in the leaked data, reporters produced dozens of stories revealing the myriad ways in which organized crime groups are evolving, expanding, and experimenting in the modern world — while leaving new victims along the way….

Julias Baer Bank Financial Crimes

On this episode of the Whistleblowers, John Kiriakou speaks with Swiss whistleblower Rudolf Elmer. While working in the Cayman Islands as an employee of Julius Baer he exposed financial crimes. In blowing the whistle, Elmer believes he was acting in the public interest. Since then he has been pursued for breaking draconian Swiss banking secrecy laws. His family has been severely harassed. Under investigation since 2005, he has already served 220 days in prison, and is still being pursued by judges of the high court in Zurich.

Julias Baer Bank financial crimes.

Vom Compliance Officer zum Whistleblower

Isabell Hemming

New Europol Report Shines Light On Multi-Billion Euro Underground Criminal Economy

Europol’s inaugural threat assessment on financial and economic crimes leverages operational insights and strategic intelligence contributed by EU Member States and Europol’s partners.
The Other Side of the Coin – Analysis of Financial and Economic Crime

The world is getting smaller, as trade, communication and infrastructure on a global scale brings us closer together. However, there is another, darker, side to the coin: our interconnected world is being abused by criminals who have created an underground economy to sustain their illegal operations.

Europol’s first ever threat assessment on the topic, ‘The other side of the coin: an analysis of financial and economic crime in the EU’, sheds a light on this system which, from the shadows, sustains the finances of criminals worldwide.

The report is based on a combination of operational insights and strategic intelligence contributed to Europol by EU Member States and Europol’s partners. It analyses all financial and economic crimes affecting the EU, such as money laundering, corruption, fraud, intellectual property crime, and commodity and currency counterfeiting.

Europol’s Executive Director Catherine De Bolle said:

Organised crime has built a parallel global criminal economy around money laundering, illicit financial transfers and corruption. With modern technology, they have diversified their modi operandi to evade detection. The report presents Europol’s expertise in financial and economic crimes, detailing how the current threats are manifesting themselves and how these crimes impact the wider society. It serves as a roadmap to foster cooperation that will derail the world of criminal finances, intercept illicit profits, and – above all else – Make Europe Safer.

The European Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson said:

Financial and economic crime, and its scale, is a corrosive force in society. Europol and the European Financial and Economic Crime Centre are part of the solution. This report sets out the increasingly sophisticated methods of organised crime and the European law enforcement successes in fighting back. If EU Member States work together even closer on this fight, we can achieve great results.

Key findings of the reportAlmost 70% of criminal networks operating in the EU make use of one form of money laundering or the other to fund their activities and conceal their assets.
More than 60% of the criminal networks operating in the EU use corruptive methods to achieve their illicit objectives.
80% of the criminal networks active in the EU misuse legal business structures for criminal activities.
The criminal landscape in this area is fragmented, with key players often located outside of the EU.
The techniques and tools used by the criminals advance quickly, as they take advantage of technological and geopolitical developments.

Asset recovery as a powerful deterrent

Asset recovery remains one of the most powerful tools to fight back. It deprives criminals of their ill-gotten assets and prevents them from reinvesting them in further crime or integrating them into the mainstream economy.

Increasing efforts are being made by EU legislators, Member States and law enforcement to corrode the economic power of serious and organised crime through the recovery of confiscated assets. Yet the amount of captured proceeds still remains too low – below 2% of the yearly estimated proceeds of organised crime, according to a data collection carried out on seized assets for the purpose of the report.

Commissioner Johansson’s speech at a press point with Ms Catherine De
Bolle, Executive Director of Europol on the first flagship report of the
Economic and Financial Crime Centre:
Commissioner Johansson Speech

Corruption and moneylaundering are destroying the planet. Environmental crimes like illegal wildlife trade, forestry crimes, illegal fishing, illegal mining, and waste trafficking are destroying our natural resources and threatening sustainable livelihoods.
Thank you Anne wonderful cartoon !!

Anne Derenne

Integrated Security for Germany – Anti Mony Laundering

Unfortunately, it is not enough to keep claiming that money laundering should be combated – it has to be done.

Money laundering has not been combated for decades. Money laundering finances organised crime and terrorism. It causes considerable economic damage and endangers fair economic competition.
Money laundering endangers democracy and the rule of law

  • Integrated Security for Germany – Anti Mony Laundering

“Providing security for its citizens is the most important job of every state, of every society.
Without security there can be no freedom, nostability, no prosperity.”

We will improve the transparency of asset relationships in order to combat money laundering more effectively, to better implement sanctions regimes and to be able to identify land acquisitions for security-endangering purposes in good time. This will also contribute to a better security policy understanding of financial and economic influence. In addition, efforts are being made to optimise anti-money laundering structures and their resources (page 55).

The Federal Government continues to work at national, international and EU level to sharpen existing measures to combat financial crime and money laundering and, if necessary, to create supplementary ones in order to identify financial flows in the area of organised crime even better and to further close gaps in the traceability of criminally obtained funds and assets. We do this in particular within the framework of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). In this way, we are helping to ensure that criminals cannot use their illegally acquired assets and that they are deprived of them (pages 56-57).

At the national level, the Federal Government will strengthen the strategic approach against financial crime and money laundering in terms of organisation and personnel. In order to effectively combat money laundering, responsibilities will also be reviewed and the recommendations from the FATF German audit will be swiftly implemented into German law where necessary (page 57).
National Security Strategy – EU-14.6.2023.1







The War on Money Laundering has Failed

23rd Parliamentary Intelligence-Security Forum – Washington, D.C.

Parliamentary Intelligence-Security Forum
23rd Parliamentary Intelligence-Security Forum – Washington, D.C., December 6-7,
Illicit Finance – Day 1
• Senator Larry Pressler, Former United States Senator
• Hon. Jerome Beaumont, Executive Secretary, Egmont Group of Financial Intelligence
• Hon. Andreas Frank, AML/CFT advisor for the Bundestag, Council Europe and the European Parliament ( 2:08min -2:19 minute and more about Andreas Frank )
• Prof. Celina Realuyo, Professor of Practice, William J. Perry Center for Hemispheric Defense Studies, National Defense University
• Mr. Mariano Federici, Senior Managing Director, K2 Integrity

23rd Parliamentary Intelligence-Security Forum – Washington, D.C. – Day 2

Corruption And Money Laundering Are Destroying The Planet

This year’s report explains that a small improvement in risks relating to the quality of countries’ anti-money laundering frameworks is offset by increased risks in four other areas measured by the Basel AML Index: corruption and bribery, political transparency, financial transparency, and political/legal risks.

But while money laundering continues to be a major problem from year to year, the factors that contribute to money laundering risk are evolving. One such evolution is the growing realization that money laundering weaknesses are enabling criminals to profit from harming our fragile environment. This is why this year’s Index includes a new environmental crime indicator in its set of (now) 18 indicators.

What does environmental crime exactly have to do with money laundering risk? And what does the initial data show?

Corruption and money laundering are destroying the planet.  Environmental crimes like illegal wildlife trade, forestry crimes, illegal mining, and waste trafficking are destroying our natural resources and threatening sustainable livelihoods. Together they are said to make up the world’s fourth largest criminal industry after drug trafficking, human trafficking and counterfeiting. Estimates indicate that environmental crime produces massive illicit proceeds, estimated at $110 billion to $281 billion each year. It is growing at an annual 5–7 percent, more than the pace of global economic growth. While such estimates make numerous assumptions and are thus to be taken with a grain of salt, they nonetheless indicate the scale of the problem.

The global community is only just starting to realise the many roles that corruption plays in facilitating environmental crimes, with some outstanding efforts that lead the charge. Research is also highlighting the myriad ways in which criminals launder the massive illicit proceeds, thereby fuelling our present environmental catastrophe.

The decision to include the environmental crime data was made at the annual review meeting of the Basel AML Index, which draws experts from across sectors and geographies. The review helps to ensure that the methodology continues to be relevant and to reflect current evolutions in the anti-money laundering and counter financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) landscape.

The inclusion aligns with the strong recommendation of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) that environmental crimes should be considered predicate offences for money laundering. This recommendation in turn echoes statements by other bodies, from the UN General Assembly to the European Union, Eurojust and INTERPOL and the UN Environment Program, that it is essential to tackle the financial drivers of environmental crimes – the corrupt deals and the money laundering that facilitate criminal activity and make it profitable.

Until now, reliable data on countries’ risks of environmental crime were lacking. The Global Organized Crime Index has changed this. First published in 2021 by the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime (GITOC), the expert-led assessment looks at both levels of criminality and resilience to organised crime in the 193 countries covered.

The Basel AML Index uses data from GITOC’s index on crimes involving flora, fauna, and non-renewable resources such as minerals. The new indicator is assigned a 5 percent weight, matching existing indicators on human trafficking and narcotics trafficking. We are thereby attempting to elevate the importance of this frequently overlooked crime.

Initial insights. Based on the data, the average global score for environmental crime is 3.62 out of 10, where 10 is the maximum risk. This sounds fairly low, but there is great variation between jurisdictions – from the highest risk score of 8.33 (Democratic Republic of the Congo) to the lowest of 0.19 (San Marino and Iceland).

Sub-Saharan Africa has the dubious honour of being the region with the highest risks of both environmental crime and money laundering. Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Madagascar, Mozambique, and Tanzania and perform particularly poorly. Next up is the region of East Asia and the Pacific, where environmental crime scores are high for Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Myanmar, the Philippines, and Vietnam.

Interestingly, there is almost 100 percent correlation between a low risk of money laundering and a low risk of environmental crime. Andorra, Finland, Iceland, New Zealand, San Marino, Slovenia, and Sweden, for example, all perform among the best countries in both.

A similar trend, but with a less strong relation, is observed in high-risk countries. For instance, a high risk in the overall money laundering score correlates with high risks of environmental crime for the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Cambodia, Cameroon, China, Madagascar, Myanmar, Mozambique, Vietnam, and Zimbabwe.

What do we need? First, more and better data. While reliable enough to be included in the Basel AML Index, the Global Organized Crime Index is based on expert-led desk research from open sources. While GITOC has gone to some length to reduce these biases, having more than one source of data to rely on would allow for greater research depth.

The FATF and its regional bodies have started to assess jurisdictions’ risks associated with environmental crime as part of their rolling program of mutual evaluations. However, this assessment is conducted only as a part of the existing FATF Recommendation 1 and Immediate Outcome 1 on understanding ML/TF risks and applying a risk-based approach to address them.

More focus on this issue is needed to provide the kind of disaggregated and detailed data we really need on different types of environmental crime and their links to money laundering.

Second, more action. The Basel Institute’s Green Corruption program is seeing fast-growing demand for technical assistance in applying existing tools designed to combat corruption and other financial crimes to tackle environmental crimes.

For example, governments are increasingly realising the value of conducting parallel financial investigations in cases of illegal wildlife trade and forest crimes, as the FATF recommends in the above-linked report. This enables law enforcement officers to identify and disrupt not only the poachers and illegal loggers, but the high-level traffickers and their corrupt facilitators who profit from the crimes. While appreciation for the importance of these parallel investigations is growing, they are still too frequently an afterthought to seizures and arrests.

The countries in which the Green Corruption program is currently active suffer medium to high risks of environmental crimes, according to the Global Organized Crime Index data. Indonesia, our newest country of operation, is evaluated as having a high risk, at 7.41 out of 10. In Latin America, Bolivia and Peru score 6.3 and 6.85 respectively. In Sub-Saharan Africa, Malawi (4.07) and Uganda (6.17) also face significant challenges.

Efforts to address the environmental crimes that are threatening these countries’ sustainable development need to go hand in hand with improving resilience to money laundering….  fcpablogCorruption and Money Laundering | Global Witness


Parliamentary Intelligence-Security Forum in Bucharest

Parliamentarians from around the world to the 22st Parliamentary Intelligence-Security Forum on July 7th – 8th at the Palace of Parliament in Bucharest.

Cross-border funds transfer, transactions on virtual currency, trade-based money laundering are methods used by criminal organisations and terrorist financiers, posing a threat to societies while affecting state security. Illegal movements of money or capital should be carefully traced by authorities and cooperation needs to be enhanced in this direction. In this panel, we will discuss recommendations on preventing criminal financial activity in order to protect our economic infrastructure against predatory investment.

Andreas Frank AML/CFT Expert
Speech for the 22st Parliamentary Intelligence

Andreas Frank, AML/CFT advisor for the Bundestag, Council Europe and the European Parliament

22ND Parliamentary IntelligenceSecurity Forum
Bucharest, Romania

68, 2022