Criminals engaged in environmental crimes often seek to hide their profits by moving the proceeds through complex financial systems that make it difficult for law enforcement to trace the money. This can involve setting up shell companies, using offshore bank accounts, and engaging in other types of financial fraud and manipulation.

Follow-the-money techniques are essential to detect, investigate and prosecute environmental criminals and their corrupt facilitators.

About the Follow-the-Money Working Group

Meetings of the Follow-the-Money Working Group are led by the Basel Institute on Governance and are open to any professional in the Countering Environmental Crime Practitioners Forum who is working (or aspiring) to target financial and environmental crimes. Sessions are held under the Chatham House rule and convene virtually.

Updates, including member-recommended case studies and resources, are shared in the dedicated space on Basel LEARN open to Working Group members only.

To join this Working Group, join the Practitioners Forum and select the Working Group when submitting the form. Existing members can update their profile.

What does “following-the-money” mean?

This phrase is often used in investigations to describe the process of tracing financial transactions in order to find the source of illegal activity.

These techniques of investigation are essential to arrest and prosecute the masterminds behind organized crime and corruption – not just the low-level actors caught red-handed – and to break down their networks.

What is the purpose of "following the money" in environmental cases?

Money is often the motivator behind criminal or corrupt behavior involving the environment. So by tracing the flow of money, investigators can uncover evidence that may be otherwise difficult to find.

Financial investigations illuminate the people receiving and paying bribes, for example. This can enable law enforcement authorities to trace, seize and eventually confiscate the proceeds and instrumentalities of environmental crimes and corruption.

By following the money, it is possible to identify the high-level actors behind wildlife trafficking, illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, illegal logging and associated trade, illegal mining and other types of environmental crimes. It also reveals who finances those crimes and who profits from them.

Why join the Working Group?

Practitioners all over the world are starting to follow the money in environmental crime cases. But they often face challenges and work alone. This Working Group enables members to:

  • Explore the impact of illicit financial flows on conservation goals
  • Share techniques and resources to strengthen financial investigations
  • Obtain guidance on risks and constraints to such financial approaches
  • Discuss case studies that exemplify the different issues worldwide.

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