Prevention of money laundering also fights environemental crimes

Yes ! The fight against money laundering overlaps with the fight against environmental crimes. How come? Well, let's look at two examples.
Aymeric Boëlle

Burial waste

France spends aprox. 18 billion euros per year on waste management. Proper waste treatment requires strict adherence to regulations and significant financial investments. Considering the treatment costs, some companies turn to operators offering waste disposal at competitive prices out of necessity or opportunity. This economic segment has been infiltrated by traffickers who charge for services they don't provide (abandonment, burial, illegal dumps, concealment of hazardous materials).

What to look for? An alert criterion for payment service providers managing accounts for waste management companies is the absence of corresponding expenses for the services billed. Money laundering in waste trafficking also involves cases of corrupting public officials.

Wildlife trafficking

Trafficking of protected wildlife species is also widespread, and investigations in France notably involve the trafficking of elvers (young eels), which are threatened due to overfishing and highly valued by consumers.

Moreover, illegal harvesting of endemic species (sea cucumbers in New Caledonia, swim bladders of certain Guyanese species) is on the rise in overseas territories. Illegally hunted/fished species are transferred abroad using fake certificates and fictitious companies; criminals often employ undeclared labour, constituting the offence of undeclared work. Payments are subsequently sent in parallel, or after receiving the goods, through various money laundering methods: fictitious companies, multiple intermediary bank accounts, fake transaction records, "money mules," etc. These payments, which are rarely reported, also involve tax offences.


Illegal gold mining is another example of laundered proceeds resulting from environmental crimes. In French Guinea, this traffic yields 10 to 12 tons per year, amounting to around 500 to 750 million euros.

The preventive measures in place within the financial sector must also contribute to detecting money laundering related to environmental crime, as well as other offences associated with it, such as active or passive corruption, just like other underlying offences !