WASHINGTON – The World Bank says the best way to curb illegal logging is to follow its illicit profits, capture the masterminds behind the activity and prosecute them.

Stop Illegal Logging by Chasing 'Dirty Money': World BankIn its report, Justice for Forests: Improving Criminal Justice Efforts to Combat Illegal Logging, the World Bank says, "by following the money trail, and using tools developed in more than 170 countries to go after ‘dirty money,’ criminal justice can pursue criminal organizations engaged in large-scale illegal logging and confiscate ill-gotten gains."

The authors of the 56-page report argue that the criminal justice system "should form an integral part of any balanced and organized strategy for fighting forest crime. This strategy should include initiatives to enhance the efficiency of criminal justice in combating illegal logging—that is, the investigation, prosecution, and conviction of cases, as well as the confiscation of the proceeds of criminal activity. These initiatives should be deployed in parallel with preventive programs."

The World Bank reports that an area the size of a football field is clear cut by illegal loggers every two seconds around the globe. In addition, the World Bank estimates that illegal logging in some countries accounts for as much as 90 percent of all logging and generates approximately $10 billion to $15 billion annually in criminal proceeds, mostly controlled by organized crime.

“We need to fight organized crime in illegal logging the way we go after gangsters selling drugs or racketeering,” said Jean Pesme, manager of the World Bank Financial Market Integrity team that helps countries implement effective legal and operational frameworks to combat illicit financial flows.

Access the World Bank's Justice for Forests report and a corresponding video. 

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