The fight against the many forms of financial crime has been going on for many decades now…

It is an important issue. Financial crime can rob companies of years of hard work spent building wealth and shareholder value, at a stroke. Financial crime can subject individuals and even whole populations to a lifetime of misery and poverty. Financial crime can subvert whole economies. Financial crime can fritter away the finite natural resources of the planet.

There are bigger issues at stake

Yet there are bigger issues than financial crime facing the planet at present, which are growing in impact and urgency, and which require concerted international action. This comes at a time when the world is becoming increasingly fragmented by nationalistic policies, exacerbated by a global pandemic and the fracturing of international trade and supply chains. So the question is how can we align our global effort on money laundering and financial crime with these more pressing planetary issues?

One approach is to take some of these “new” crimes (such as environmental crime and illegal wildlife trafficking, (increasingly referred to as “green crime”, or “ecocide”)) into the current global AML structure. Another approach is to look at the issue from the other end of the telescope and see

what is destroying the world as we know it (“terracide”), and analyse what bad behaviours we may need to call out, transform, or even criminalise and prosecute.

Here are 10 key planetary issues to address, along with an indication of their financial crime implications. Not all of these have an immediately obvious financial crime angle. Not all bad behaviours (from the perspective of saving the planet) are criminalised, or even where they are, they are often not monitored, or fall between two stools, such as shipping crime committed on the high seas. The crucial message here is that any one of these issues could cause a seriously adverse impact on the world as we know it currently. We could hit the target of 1.5C and still be in a whole world of trouble:

10 key planetary TERRACIDE issues

So how can we align the planetary issues with the financial crime agenda?

Some of the above have aspects which have been criminalised, such as environmental crime and illegal wildlife trafficking, though enforcement is proving difficult. See for example the large numbers of EU environmental law infringements:

In addition to “planetary crimes” there are financial crimes of a more generic overarching nature, such as corruption and money laundering. The Financial Action Task Force could relatively easily extend scope of the Forty Recommendations to align better with planetary issues, and indeed has introduced a focus on illegal wildlife trafficking. Transparency International, and other NGOs, could be more effective in this area too. However, certain behaviours which adversely impact the planet have yet to be criminalised, are difficult to enforce, or do not lend themselves easily to policy change which could result in action to mitigate their effects. Others may be regarded as new forms of crime, such as greenwashing (see the IOSCO consultation). However, it is certainly worth addressing how the anti financial crime community could assist in progress on the above planetary issues, whether through, for example:

We also need to reconsider certain fundamentals, such as: