Geopolitics

Tracking The Dirty Money Trail To End Illegal Logging

International organized crime networks earn billions of dollars every year from illegal logging. A new World Bank report suggests that if authorities really want to save the forests, they should follow the money.

Illegal logging in Madagascar (Erik Patel)
Illegal logging in Madagascar (Erik Patel)


*NEWSBITES

Every two seconds, an area of forest the size of a football field is cut down by illegal loggers around the globe, according to a World Bank report released this week. What can law officials do to stop it? "Follow the money," says the World Bank, which has been working on the issue for more than a decade.

The report, entitled "Justice for Forests," suggests that large-scale illegal logging would not be possible without the organized crime networks that are paying corrupt officials at the highest levels of government. Revenue from the timber mafias' illegal logging – which represents 20-40% of the global timber trade - is estimated at between $10 billion and $15 billion per year, plus $5 billion more in lost tax revenue and unpaid royalties.

If law enforcement authorities really want to crack down on the practice, they'll need to apply the same tools already being used in the fight against money laundering, the World Bank urges. "We need to fight organized crime in illegal logging the way we go after gangsters selling drugs or racketeering," says Jean Pesme, manager of the Bank's Financial Market Integrity unit.

More than 170 countries already share a number of conventions, paving the way for broad international cooperation to track down these illicit funds and freeze accounts. Interpol, which has been working with the World Bank on this subject since 2008, will soon be setting up a dedicated team to tackle international "forest crimes'.

Read the full article in French in Le Monde

Photo - Erik Patel

*Newsbites are digests, not full translations.

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Geopolitics

The Train Wreck That Is Poland Right Now

Everything is collapsing: The zloty is sinking, a virus is spreading, diplomacy has disappeared, and so has the rule of law. And the government claims everything is going just fine.

Police forces on the Poland-Belarus border.

Monika Olejnik

-OpEd-

WARSAW — Everywhere we look, there is a disaster.

The zloty is sinking because of inflation, which we owe to the head of Poland's central bank Adam Glapinski, a political ally of ruling PiS party leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski since the early 1990s when the pair demonstrated against then President Lech Wałęsa and joined in burning his effigy.

At the same time, we also have a COVID-19 catastrophe. As we've witnessed, 25,000 daily cases and hundreds of deaths are not enough for the government to introduce any kind of restrictions. The Prime Minister is afraid of demonstrations that could lead to deaths from COVID-19, while tens of thousands of people recently attended the National Stadium without masks and nobody checked whether anyone was vaccinated.

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We are grateful for reader support to continue our unique mission of delivering in English the best international journalism, regardless of language or geography. Click here to contribute whatever you can. Merci!
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