The Co-operative Bank of Kenya (CBK) has signed the United for Wildlife 2018 Mansion House Declaration against illegal trafficking in wildlife.
By signing the declaration, the bank pledges to build illegal wildlife trade into existing financial crime compliance programmes. It also promises to work with other financial institutions to share good practice and support one another in fighting illegal trade in wildlife.
CBK is one of more than 30 financial institutions across the globe to sign the declaration and join the United for Wildlife’s (UfW) Financial Taskforce, which was convened in October 2018 in London by the Duke of Cambridge.
Led by Duke, United for Wildlife works to tackle illegal wildlife trade by bringing together conservation organisations, governments, and global corporations.
Signatories commit to six measures: increasing awareness of how the financial industry can combat IWT; providing training to identify and investigate suspicious activity; providing intelligence to regulatory bodies and law enforcement agencies; reviewing intelligence alerts received through the Taskforce and taking appropriate actions; considering additional actions such as policy amendments; and supporting and promoting the work of the taskforce and external supporting mechanisms.
In January, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta spoke at the United for Wildlife Taskforce meeting at St. James’s Palace in London hosted by the Duke of Cambridge. In his speech he referred to Kenya’s own efforts to stop poaching and wildlife trafficking and support conservation.
As part of its pledge, the bank will train relevant staff with financial crime compliance functions so they can identify and investigate potentially suspicious activity that may be related to the illegal trade.
It will also utilise current suspicious activity reporting mechanisms to provide intelligence related to potential illegal wildlife trade activity to the relevant regulatory body or law enforcement agencies.
The bank will also review intelligence reports received in the financial taskforce and take appropriate steps to identify, investigate and report potentially suspicious financial activity related to the illegal trade.
The bank’s managing director and CEO, Dr Gideon Muriuki, said it was committed to wildlife conservation and sustainability. He said: “Co-op Bank cards are well known in this industry as the ‘elephant in your wallet’, while our Jumbo Junior children service has the ‘elebank’, short for ‘elephant bank’ given to children to encourage them to save.
“Co-op Bank has the strongest association with elephants of any financial brand in Kenya.”
Lord Hague of Richmond, chair of the taskforce, said: “The taskforce secretariat and the taskforce partners look forward to supporting you [CBK] as our newest member. The potential rewards are significant: by improving the detection and disruption of IWT, we will make a difference in fighting the loss of some of the world’s most iconic speciesl.”