The Walk Free Foundation in partnership with The United Nations Labor Organization (ILO) estimates that more than 40 million people were enslaved around the world as at 2016. Most of these people are trafficked for domestic work, factory work, sexual exploitation and marriages they did not consent to. The banks too have risen against this inhumane act of present-day slavery.
On Thursday, an anti-trafficking coalition announced that a set of sophisticated tools will help financial institutions uncover profits from human trafficking which is estimated at $150 billion per year that are moving through their systems.
The organizers of United States Banks Alliance said that special tools that will detect suspicious transactions have been developed. These tools will make it possible for companies to easily detect and identify traffickers that are using their banking or money-moving services to handle profits.
Mark Selby, special agent in charge for U.S. Homeland Security Investigations, which is part of the alliance was quoted saying, “Like any crime that creates revenue, they still have to figure out a way to conceal those funds. They use the formal banking system to continue and carry out their activities.”
The United States Banks Alliance, which launched the initiative was put together by the Thomson Reuters Foundation. It’s a team of financial institutions including American Express, Bank of America, Barclays, Deutsche Bank, PayPal, Western Union, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s investigations arm, the New York County District Attorney, and the U.S.-based anti-trafficking group Polaris.
“Financial records can be powerful weapons in prosecuting traffickers, especially when survivors find it too difficult to be strong witnesses in court,” said Cyrus Vance Jr. New York County District Attorney. “This system of gathering hard data shows money movement and who owns the credit cards. This is the circumstantial and direct hard evidence that helps build trafficking cases,” Vance added.
According to Bradley Myles, chief executive of Polaris, traffickers need financial institutions meaning that making cooperation with banks, credit-card companies, and other such companies is critical. “Traffickers see a very high value in managing their money using legitimate financial institutions, they don’t want to be stuck with the burden of having too much cash on hand,” he said.
This initiative trains bank employees about the usability of these tools to spot and report signs of human trafficking. With this new development, Banks are doing their part to stop human trafficking. Let’s all join the fight! #Rewordit