Posted on 07 May 2020
WWF-Laos recently led the in-country coordination of a multi-agency review of the efficacy of using financial investigation to identify and disrupt wildlife crimes. Together with WWF International, TRAFFIC, the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the Department of Forest Inspection (DOFI), WWF-Laos worked on piloting this new capacity-building exercise, the results of which are published
on the RUSI website. A Lao translation
is also available.
The aim of the exercise was to demonstrate to Lao officials involved in the investigation of wildlife crimes the importance and effectiveness of using financial investigation as a supplementary approach when investigating wildlife cases.
By analyzing familiar and real cases in a closed-door setting, participants were able to have open discussions about opportunities to collect financial evidence. For example, participants noted that in all future cases involving retailers, documents such as receipts, logbooks, inventories and invoices, as well as physical evidence like card readers and QR codes used for online payments, should be seized at the scene of the crime. Guided by the facilitators, participants were able to reflect on the value of developing financial intelligence to better understand criminal networks, even if these leads are not used as evidence in trying wildlife cases.
Practical policy recommendations also emerged from the workshop. It was observed, for example, that to guarantee effective inter-agency cooperation, the Anti-Money Laundering Intelligence Office (AMLIO) should join the Lao Wildlife Enforcement Network (Lao-WEN) to provide guidance on the application of relevant financial crime legislation.
Practical Financial Investigation guidelines are currently being prepared in consultation with the concerned authorities. These guidelines can then be used as an invaluable tool by all relevant agencies involved in tackling the wildlife crime in Lao PDR.