Secretary Statements & Remarks

Remarks by Secretary of the Treasury Janet L. Yellen at Dinokeng Game Reserve

As Prepared for Delivery

Good morning. Let me first thank the rangers who guided our tour around Dinokeng Game Reserve.

Seeing so many different animal species in their natural setting reminds us why it is so important to work together to protect wildlife. I’m concerned to know that this Reserve, like so many other reserves and parks, has experienced poaching.

To help save wildlife populations from further poaching and disrupt the associated illicit trade, we must “follow the money” in the same way we do with other serious crimes.

This includes identifying and seizing the proceeds generated from the illegal wildlife trade and impeding the money laundering and cross-border transactions of the transnational criminal organizations often involved in—and who benefit from—corruption.

Wildlife traffickers, corrupt officials, and other criminals rely on many of the same vulnerabilities in anti-money laundering regulatory regimes, so our efforts to combat wildlife trafficking reinforce our efforts to fight corruption, and vice versa.

I am here today to demonstrate our shared commitment to these two significant goals for both of our countries: fighting corruption and combating wildlife trafficking.

Our countries are leaders in combatting wildlife trafficking and my agency is dedicated to helping follow the money associated with this crime.

To date, Treasury has worked to share information associated with wildlife trafficking, including by providing financial intelligence for law enforcement partners in the U.S. that investigate wildlife trafficking globally.

Alongside South Africa, Treasury also worked with the Financial Action Task Force, the international standard setting body on combating money laundering and other illicit finance, to identify indicators associated with money laundering and wildlife trafficking.

The trends and typologies identified as part of this work are key to raising awareness and supporting key disruptive efforts.

There is much more that can be done on this front. Today, I am pleased to speak about a new commitment between the United States and South Africa to combat illicit finance linked to the illegal wildlife trade.

The U.S. Treasury and South Africa’s National Treasury are committing to form a United States – South Africa Task Force on Combating the Financing of Wildlife Trafficking, which will work to address this critical issue in three key areas.

First, we will increase information sharing between our financial intelligence units to better support key law enforcement agencies from South Africa and the United States.

Second, the Task Force will prioritize the sharing of financial red flags and indicators related to wildlife trafficking cases, especially those involving the U.S. financial system and those overlapping with investigations into high-level corruption, drug trafficking, and transnational criminal organizations.

Finally, U.S. Treasury and our counterparts at the National Treasury will work to strengthen controls in our countries and beyond to combat money laundering and terrorist financing through public-private partnership activities in the region.

We will convene relevant government authorities, regulators, law enforcement, and the private sector to improve controls to combat money laundering and the illicit proceeds related to drug trafficking and wildlife trafficking.

Through closer collaboration to target illicit proceeds linked to wildlife trafficking, as well as overlapping criminal activity like corruption, fraud, and drug trafficking, we are taking a step in the right direction today.

To make an impact against this harmful crime and the illicit financing that accompanies it, we must use this as an opportunity to build a consistent and durable approach.

I look forward to hearing updates about the progress of our two governments working together.