Ho Chi Minh City, June 20-21 and 22-23, 2023, Wildlife Conservation Society - Viet Nam Program (WCS Viet Nam) in collaboration with Ho Chi Minh City University of Law (HCMULAW) and Banking Academy of Viet Nam (BAV) organized two training workshops on “Identifying illicit financial flow from illegal wildlife trade”. These events aimed at providing anti-money laundering (AML) staff of banks and non-banking financial institutions skills to detect, analyze and report suspicious transactions related to illegal wildlife trade (IWT); thereby enhancing the effectiveness of detecting and handling wildlife crimes and contributing to wildlife protection.
Mr. Chris Batt, Former advisor on anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing in the Mekong sub-region of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Ho Chi Minh City, June 2023
The two training workshops were designed by WCS Viet Nam, BAV and HCMULAW based on results of the need assessment for awareness raising and capacity building in AML related to IWT of the financial intelligence units (FIU), commercial banks and non-banking financial institutions. The assessment is a part of the “Survey on awareness and capacity of FIU and financial service providers to detect and prevent money laundering risks related to IWT in Viet Nam'' that was conducted by a research group of BAV, within the framework of cooperation between WCS Viet Nam and BAV.
According to the results of WCS Viet Nam’s monitoring the situation of IWT on online platforms, evidence of more than 30 subjects using online banking payment to conduct transactions of buying and selling wildlife and wildlife products in the period of 2019-2023 were recorded. These transactions showed signs of violating legal regulations on the protection of endangered and rare species. Value of the transactions made by recorded subjects varied greatly depending on the species and quantity of wildlife and wildlife products being traded. These transactions can range from a few tens to several hundred thousand dong (deposits) up to hundreds of millions of dong for wildlife products which are prohibited from trading, but only exist on the black market. WCS Viet Nam is working to collect more data to clarify IWT activities taking advantage of online payment channels, e-wallets and other financial services. To prevent illegal acts that are increasing in cyberspace, it will require not only the participation but also strict compliance with regulations on wildlife protection and AML of the financial institutions.
More than 50 officials from departments and units related to banking inspection and supervision, AML of the State Bank of Viet Nam and branches in the provinces and cities identified as hotspot areas for IWT such as Nghe An, Da Nang, Quang Binh, Quang Nam, Dak Lak, Ho Chi Minh City...; financial crime investigation and AML units of commercial banks such as Vietcombank, HSBC, ACB, VietBank…; non-banking financial service providers such as Zalo pay, M_Service (Online Mobile Joint Stock Company)... attended the two training workshops.
At each training workshop, participants were introduced to the concept and stages of money laundering, the Vietnamese legal framework on AML and red flags indicators for IWT, as well as updated on the role of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), the financial intelligence unit (FIU), and the mechanism for reporting suspicious transactions. In particular, the participants had a chance to discuss case studies, practice skills in identifying and analyzing suspicious transactions and illicit financial flows in general and related to IWT in particular. Participants were also provided with practical advice from sharing of the representative of the AML Department of the State Bank of Viet Nam, representatives of law enforcement agencies, banks and non-banking financial institutions which contributed to promoting the participation and actions of financial institutions in combating wildlife crime.
Group discussion, Ho Chi Minh City, June 2023
These two training workshops were implemented by WCS Viet Nam within the framework of the project “Scaling up efforts to counter wildlife trafficking in Vietnam" funded by the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL), United States Department of State.