FEATURE STORY

Prince William and President Kim: Hunt Down Corruption

December 8, 2014


World Bank Group

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The Duke of Cambridge and World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim spoke to more than 300 anti-corruption officials assembled for the International Corruption Hunters Alliance meeting.
  • Prince William announced the founding of a new task force to shut down illegal wildlife trade routes.
  • The corruption hunters will also have sessions on illicit financial flows, transnational bribery, new financial investigative techniques, corruption prevention, and collective action with the private sector.

Britain’s Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, came to the World Bank to urge action on what he called one of the most insidious forms of corruption: the illegal wildlife trade.

Wildlife crime has escalated over the last decade to the point where criminal gangs are “turning vast profits from the illegal killing and capture of wildlife” – as much as $20 billion a year in illegal profits, said the duke at a meeting of the International Corruption Hunters Alliance. The market is exceeded in value only by the illegal markets for drugs, arms, and trafficked human beings, he said.

“Wildlife crime goes to the heart of our security. It recognizes neither national borders nor national interests. It distorts economic development, undermines the rule of law, and exacerbates sources of conflict,” said the duke, speaking in his capacity as the president of the conservation group, United for Wildlife.  

World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim said corruption is not only a threat to sustainable development, but to the goals of ending extreme poverty and boosting shared prosperity.

“Corruption may very well be one of the most blatant expressions of inequality in our society,” said Kim, adding that illicit financial flows exceed both aid and foreign direct investment.

Prince William announced a new task force, chaired by British First Secretary of State William Hague, that will work with the transport industry on shutting down illegal wildlife trade routes and encouraging global action on wildlife crime. He asked for the backing of the more than 300 anti-corruption officials from 130 countries in the audience.

“You are all experts and senior policymakers in the field, and today I make a plea for your support. I am determined not to let the world’s children grow up on a planet where the most iconic and endangered species have been wiped out, impoverishing us all,” he said.

Kim thanked Prince William for his determination “in rooting out and breaking apart the entrenched corruption in the illegal wildlife trade.”

“You are part of a very special club – a club of people who are ethically and morally motivated to fight corruption in order to protect the most vulnerable, whether it’s the poorest people in the world or endangered wildlife,” Kim added.

 “I challenge the corruption hunters to do their part.  Freeze, forfeit, and recover stolen assets so that the flow of corrupted funds is disrupted,” he said.



" Wildlife crime goes to the heart of our security. It recognizes neither national borders nor national interests. It distorts economic development, undermines the rule of law, and exacerbates sources of conflict. "

Prince William

Duke of Cambridge


The International Corruption Hunters Alliance meeting, which continues through Dec. 10, aims at promoting cooperation and knowledge-sharing on corruption cases within and beyond borders.  More than 20 sessions focus on illicit financial flows, transnational bribery, new financial investigative techniques, corruption prevention, collective action with the private sector and wildlife crime, among other topics. 

As much as $1 trillion vanishes from the developing world’s economies every year, according to an estimate by the non-profit group Global Financial Integrity. 

That’s roughly the amount needed to fill the vast infrastructure gap that is preventing the world from addressing critical development challenges.

“Corruption, tax evasion, and the capture of natural-resource revenues are not just illegal but also immoral, because they keep poor people poor,” said World Bank Managing Director Sri Mulyani Indrawati.

She spoke at a session on linking corruption to the vast illicit financial flows. “Following the money” is one of the themes of the meeting, along with ending impunity for corruption so perpetrators are held accountable.

Many countries have laws against corruption but “don’t enforce them enough,” said Jean Pesme, who leads the anti-money laundering team at the World Bank and is the coordinator of the Stolen Asset Recovery (StAR) Initiative.  He participated in an online chat on the Corruption Hunters Alliance hosted by the World Bank last week.

One reason may be lack of capacity to enforce laws. “You can have the best laws on the books. If you cannot use them, you will not succeed,” he said.

The World Bank currently finances about $50 million a year in projects to combat illegal trade in wildlife and natural resources. It is leading efforts to ensure environmental offenses are integrated into countries’ anti-money laundering legislation.  

But more could be done to stop the trade at the borders by training customs staff and investing in specialized equipment such as scanners, said William Magrath, a lead natural resource economist at the Bank.  “It’s so easy to smuggle stuff, but if this is done right, with the right equipment and systems, it could be stopped,” he said.

Wildlife and forestry corruption is the subject of a side event of the Corruption Hunters meeting on Wednesday.

The meeting is the third since the World Bank organized the alliance in 2010 with the support of the governments of Australia, Denmark and Norway. Several entities are contributing, including the World Bank Group’s Integrity Vice Presidency, Global Governance Practice, Stolen Asset Recovery (StAR) Initiative, Financial Market Integrity, the Risk, Finance and Strategy Group of the International Finance Corporation, as well as the contributions of individual experts and speakers from across the World Bank Group and around the globe.

 


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