Follow money trail to tackle wildlife trade, say experts

Kenyan police officers on Dec 5 with seized ivory weighing 55kg and with an estimated street value of 5.5 million Kenyan shillings (S$74,000).
Kenyan police officers on Dec 5 with seized ivory weighing 55kg and with an estimated street value of 5.5 million Kenyan shillings (S$74,000). PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
Mr Tim Phillipps, head of Deloitte's Asia-Pacific financial crime network, says the fight can be won by hitting back where it hurts most - the syndicates' bank accounts.
Mr Tim Phillipps, head of Deloitte's Asia-Pacific financial crime network, says the fight can be won by hitting back where it hurts most - the syndicates' bank accounts.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Banking industry roped in to nab syndicates trying to launder ill-gotten funds

There is no magic bullet to destroy the illegal wildlife trade. But experts in banking and finance can hurt the traffickers as lethally as any ranger.

A new frontier has been opened. Away from the African front lines, where each day, three rhinoceroses are slaughtered for their prized horns and 55 elephants are poached for their ivory, sleuths are looking at the digital footprints left by wildlife trafficking syndicates.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 22, 2018, with the headline 'Follow money trail to tackle wildlife trade, say experts'. Print Edition | Subscribe