TNRC Blog Collaboration Avenues: Following-the-Money

Collaboration avenues: Following-the-money

This blog post outlines key issues and approaches discussed in 2023 meetings of the Countering Environmental Corruption Practitioners Forum, Following-the-Money (FTM) Working Group. This working group brings together a circle of interested practitioners from the conservation and anti-corruption communities for exchange of ideas and experiences and for active collaboration. Stay tuned for periodic updates.

About the Follow-the-Money Working Group

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.

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 Chatham House rules and convene virtually on the third Wednesday of each month. Updates, including member-recommended case studies and resources, are shared in this space. To join the working group meetings, sign up for the forum.

The Challenge

What does “following-the-money” entail?

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

This Working Group enables members to:

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

What is the relationship between money laundering and environmental crimes?

Financial investigations illuminate the people receiving and paying bribes, enabling investigators to trace, seize and eventually confiscate the proceeds and instrumentalities of environmental crimes and corruption. By following the money, it is possible to raise alerts on 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.

Recommended Tools

Stay Connected

Social icon

LinkedIn Group: Countering Environmental Corruption Practitioners Forum

This LinkedIn group is a dedicated space for the members to promote practices, share experiences, and learn from each other. The group is open to professionals from diverse backgrounds, including government, civil society, academia, and the private sector, committed to addressing environmental corruption and promoting sustainable development. Subscription to the forum is required to join this group.

Not a member? Sign up for the forum

Visit the forum

Image attribution: © / Jen Guyton / WWF; © Brian J. Skerry / National Geographic Stock / WWF; © Georgina Goodwin / Shoot The Earth / WWF-UK; © Hkun Lat / WWF-Aus