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Why is money laundering a critical issue in natural resource corruption?

Why is money laundering a critical issue in natural resource corruption?
by Allison Taylor last modified Feb 11, 2020 10:45 AM
Contributors: Louise Shelley

The profits from illicit natural resource trade in fish, timber and wildlife are estimated to be between $62.5 billion and $316.4 billion annually. These funds are usually transferred through banks, corporations and other accounts in the international financial system. “Following the money,” confiscating it and arresting the money launderers, however, has received less attention than arresting the individuals most closely associated with illegal shipments, poached animals or undocumented catch. Yet this next step helps reveal the networks that finance, facilitate and grow rich from environmental crimes, and it is key to preventing these crimes and related corruption because the illicit gains have minimal value if they can’t be used in the international financial system. By following the money flows, it is possible to target the perpetrators and their facilitating networks and ensure that crime does not pay.

Author(s): Louise Shelley

Publication Date: 2020

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Key Takeaways

  • Following the illicit financial flows from natural resources is key to stemming corrupt and criminal activity.
  • Illicit financial flows often enter the United States (U.S.) and other developed economies and can be prosecuted through the U.S. and other judicial systems where rule of law is stronger.
  • Countries known for long-term corruption, under the right circumstances, can help bring greater accountability to the natural resource sector, with international support.

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