Policy paper authored by Alexandria Reid, Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), Rob Parry-Jones, World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and Tom Keatinge, Royal United Services Institute (RUSI)

Originally published by World Wildlife Fund


  • “Follow the money” (FTM) techniques are increasingly being applied to investigate natural resource crimes and networks, but the corruption that facilitates these crimes is not often included in programs and initiatives that apply financial investigations to environmental crime.
  • Governments, the private sector, civil society, and donors will get better results from these initiatives with more effective integration of anti-corruption objectives.
  • The FTM approach analyzes the illicit natural resource supply chain from a financial perspective. This mindset can be used to identify all possible financial responses to corruption from a crime prevention, detection and enforcement perspective.
  • Financial investigations can identify and collect evidence against mid- and high-level members of a criminal network, but they are currently underused in the investigation of natural resource crime. This results in missed opportunities to identify corrupt actors and practices too.
  • A lack of inter-agency collaboration between anti-corruption, financial crime and environmental management authorities means that there is a lack of information about the financial aspects of corruption related to crime in the renewable natural resource sector (wildlife, timber and fisheries).
  • The success of FTM efforts to combat natural resource crimes can be directly and positively affected by broader anti-corruption reforms such as robust record keeping, codes of conduct, asset declarations by government officials, digitization and transparency.
  • Technical capacity is not the only constraint to “following the money” in corruption-related environmental crime investigations. Powerful corrupt actors may obstruct financial investigations, or prevailing political dynamics within or outside institutions may create disincentives for uncovering corruption, such as fear of repercussions.
  • Well-informed risk assessments or context analyses should inform programs and strategies to support FTM work, and resulting efforts should include protections, partnerships and procedures to incentivize and give confidence to local agencies in pursuing financial disruption strategies.

Recommended Posts