BUENOS AIRES, Argentina – Combating corruption in the forestry sector was the focus of an INTERPOL training course in Argentina.
The 14th INTERPOL Global Programme on Anti-Corruption, Financial Crime and Asset Recovery brought together 35 participants from police, financial intelligence units, forest and environmental law enforcement agencies and anti-corruption units in nine countries: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay.
The five-day (11-15 April) training course, held at INTERPOL’s Regional Bureau for South America, aimed to strengthen the capacity of the participants to prevent, detect and investigate corruption and related financial crimes in the forestry sector within their countries.
“The history of Latin America is one where the exploitation of natural resources has been prevalent, and deforestation is perhaps one of the clearest examples of where corruption has been involved,” said Rafael Cono Pena, the Head of the Regional Bureau in Buenos Aires.
“Through this training event INTERPOL hopes to forge strategic alliances amongst experts in the Americas region to address the issue of corruption linked to forestry crime,” he added.
Conducted by INTERPOL’s Anti-Corruption and Financial Crimes (AFC) unit in collaboration with INTERPOL’s Project Leaf (Law Enforcement Assistance for Forests), an initiative to combat illegal logging worldwide, the training course was also supported by the Financial Action Task Force of Latin America (GAFILAT).
Through Project Leaf, INTERPOL has estimated that the annual cost of corruption in the forestry sector worldwide is worth some USD 30 billion in lost government revenue.
James Anderson, head of INTERPOL’s AFC unit, underscored how ‘corruption helps criminals facilitate the trafficking of goods such as timber, which results in substantial revenue and resource loss for developing countries’ governments and their economies, as well as local communities.’
Funding for the training session was provided by the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad) and the GAFILAT-European Union Project.