Australian Law to Combat Illegal Logging in Indonesia: A Gossamer Chain for Transnational Enforcement of Environmental Law

Date01 July 2017
Published date01 July 2017
AuthorGregory Rose
Australian Law to Combat Illegal Logging in
Indonesia: A Gossamer Chain for Transnational
Enforcement of Environmental Law
Gregory Rose*
Two countriescombined crime-fighting ability might
be greater than the sum of their individual capacities
where their capabilities complement each other. This
article investigates transnational coordination against
environmental crime. Australian utilization of mutual
legal assistance and anti-money laundering mechan-
isms to prosecute offences related to illegal logging in
Indonesia are examined as a case study. In theory,
interrupting the transfer of proceeds of environmental
crime across national borders enhances transnational
law enforcement. The case study demonstrates that
difficult legal obstacles can obstruct practical cooper-
ation between neighbouring countries combating
transnational environmental crime in the timber sec-
tor. Therefore, international harmonization of envi-
ronmental crime laws is needed.
The connections between transnational crime and envi-
ronmental crime are present in illegal logging. This art-
icle surveys Australian and Indonesian laws against
illegal logging and against dealing in the proceeds of
crime, with a view to analysing whether those countries
laws can work together. It commences by placing
IndonesianAustralian illegal timber trade within the
context of transnational environmental crime and com-
pares the criminalization of illegal logging and of deal-
ing in the proceeds of crime within each jurisdiction. It
then undertakes a case study that follows the proceeds
from Indonesian illegal logging in Australian law with a
view to their confiscation. It focuses on dual criminal-
ityand finds that Australian laws can be used to seize
proceeds from illegal logging in Indonesia. However,
prosecutions for illegal logging and related crimes, such
as money laundering, require a commitment of law
enforcement resources and concomitant international
cooperation. The practical hurdles in securing evidence
may be insuperable. Nevertheless, the return on cooper-
ative labours will be greater than the sum of each coun-
trys lone actions.
An environmental crime can be defined as an action in
breach of a national environmental law where that
breach is subject to prosecution and, on conviction, the
imposition of criminal penalties.
The term transna-
tional environmental crimesimply refers to environ-
mental crime that has elements that cross national
The nature of the cross-border elementscan vary widely,
from physical acts such as simple poaching and smug-
gling by a lone operator, to intangible acts such as con-
spiring in complex layered transactions across multiple
jurisdictions by organized criminal syndicates.
The lat-
ter might include bribery and corruption to support the
domestic commissionof the offence,
whilst money laun-
dering disguises the illicit origin of proceeds and facili-
tates their transboundarymovement back to criminals.
For example, ramin, a valuable once plentiful species of
light hardwood that has been depleted in Indonesia, is
subject to a national ban on logging and commercial
trade. It is logged illegally in protected areas, such as
the Tanjung Puting National Park in Indonesian Bor-
neo. Neighbouring Malaysia is a transit destination for
*Corresponding author.
G. Mueller, ‘An Essay on Environmental Criminality’, in: S. Edwards,
T. Edwards and C. Fields (eds.), Environmental Crime and Criminality
(Garland, 1996), 3, at 56.
For perspectives on transnational environmental crime, see L. Elliott
and W.H. Schaedla (eds.), Handbook of Transnational Environmental
Crime (Edward Elgar, 2016).
M. Levi, ‘Breaking the Economic Power of Organised Crime Groups’,
in: D. Siegel, H. van de Bunt and D. Zaitch (eds.), Global Organized
Crime (Springer, 2003), 117.
Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) and Telapak Indonesia,
‘The Thousand Headed Snake: Forest Crimes, Corruption and Injus-
tice in Indonesia’ (2007), at 1; WWF United Kingdom, ‘Fighting For-
est Crime and the Illegal Timber Trade’ (2004).
B. Setiono, ‘Fighting Illegal Logging and Forest related Financial
Crime: The Anti-Money Laundering Approach’, paper presented at the
Workshop on Transnational Environmental Crime and Illegal
Resource Activity in the Asia Pacific, Australian National University,
Canberra, 2223 March 2007. Specific advocacy for the use of anti-
money laundering (AML) regimes to combat illegal logging in Indo-
nesia was led by BamBang Setiono, an economist with the Centre for
International Forestry Research (CIFOR) located in Bogor, Indonesia.
ª2017 John Wiley & Sons Ltd, 9600 Garsington Road, Oxford OX4 2DQ, UK and 350 Main Street, Malden, MA 02148, USA.
RECIEL 26 (2) 2017. ISSN 2050-0386 DOI: 10.1111/reel.12206
Review of European Community & International Environmental Law

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