Fitzpatrick, Keating Lead Effort to Cut Off Human Traffickers from the Global Financial System
Washington, DC—Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) and Congressman Bill Keating (D-MA) introduced bipartisan legislation to help law enforcement and financial institutions identify and report suspected human traffickers so that they can be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
The End Banking for Human Traffickers Act [H.R. 295] would direct federal banking regulators to work with law enforcement and financial institutions to combat the use of the financial system for human trafficking. The bill would further increase collaboration between law enforcement and experts in financial crimes by adding financial intelligence and regulatory officers to the President's Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons and require the Task Force to develop recommendations for Congress and regulators that would strengthen anti-money laundering programs to better target human trafficking.
The bill further allows advocates of trafficking victims to serve as “stakeholder” and provide feedback to the U.S. Treasury. It additionally clarifies that banks do not restrict trafficking victims’ access to bank accounts.
“Human trafficking continues to devastate millions of lives around the world. This criminal conduct may seem a distant problem, but it is not. It exists right here in our own back yards. Traffickers use the global financial system to launder their illicit funds. Cutting off their access to the banking system is critical to putting an end to their abhorrent crimes,” said Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick. “The End Banking for Human Traffickers Act will not only bolster our efforts to prevent human traffickers from using our domestic financial system, it sends a signal around the world to cut off traffickers from the global financial system. I’m proud to work on this bipartisan bill with Congressman Keating to address this heinous crime.”
“With so many complex security and law enforcement challenges in human trafficking cases, one of the most straightforward ways to find traffickers is to follow the money. Human trafficking is one of the most valuable criminal enterprises in the world and these criminals are known to be taking advantage of our banking and financial institutions,” said Rep. Bill Keating. “By providing financial institutions and regulators with the resources and tools to better detect and prevent human trafficking, we will be opening another avenue for law enforcement to hold perpetrators of this heinous crime responsible. I am proud to be working with Congressman Fitzpatrick on this common-sense, bipartisan legislation.”
Human trafficking has devastated the lives of tens of millions of people around the world, including in the United States. The perpetrators of this exploitation prey on the defenseless in our society, including young children.
Traffickers aren't hiding their illegal profits under a mattress or burying them in their backyard. Banks, credit card companies, and money transfer companies are all used by traffickers to facilitate their business and the exploitation of their victims. The International Labor Organization estimates that over $150 billion in illegal profits are made from forced labor each year and $99 billion are earned from the victims of sexual exploitation, making human trafficking the third most lucrative criminal enterprise in the world. Cutting off traffickers’ access to the banking system is critical to putting an end to this illegal activity.
The End Banking for Human Traffickers Act is originally co-sponsored by House Foreign Affairs Ranking Member Michael McCaul (R-TX) and Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (D-NY).
What They’re Saying:
- “Unfortunately, human trafficking is a modern day form of slavery as profitable as it is despicable. Rep. Fitzpatrick’s bipartisan bill will help choke off traffickers’ access to the formal financial system, through which they launder billions of dollars in profits earned off human suffering. I am proud to support the End Banking for Human Traffickers Act, which will ensure that America leads international efforts to prevent financial transactions involving the proceeds from this horrific practice.” – Ranking Member Michael McCaul, House Foreign Affairs Committee
- “Human trafficking is a $150 billion industry and one of the fastest-growing criminal enterprises in the world. Some of these funds are flowing through U.S. financial institutions, with or without their knowledge. We must ensure that financial institutions are actively monitoring money laundering specifically related to human trafficking. This bill is an important step forward in eradicating modern-day slavery and bringing human traffickers to justice.” - Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12)
- “Human traffickers are in this insidious business for greed and profit. If we cut off their ability to make money off the bodies of their victims, then we can eradicate human trafficking altogether. The End Banking for Human Traffickers Act will help law enforcement do just that.” – Matthew Weintraub, Bucks County District Attorney
- “Traffickers utilize the most insidious methods of physical, psychological, sexual, and financial abuse to manipulate their victims. While law enforcement and service organizations like A Woman’s Place are striving together to support victims and prosecute traffickers, the exploitation of vulnerable people through force, fraud, and coercion remains an extremely profitable business. Any legislation that makes it more difficult for traffickers to profit from this exploitation makes victims and potential victims safer. We applaud this legislation and welcome any and all partners to join us in the critical work of standing with victims and survivors of human trafficking.”-Tammy Oliver, Executive Director, A Woman’s Place
- “The Network of Victim Assistance (NOVA) is the comprehensive victim services organization in Bucks County. We know from our work providing victim advocacy and counseling to victims of human trafficking, that traffickers build their criminal enterprise at the dire cost of human lives. Girls, women, boys and men are viewed by traffickers as highly valuable commodities, unlike weapons and the drug trade, because humans can be used over and over again for financial gain. The purchase and payment between traffickers and buyers is very difficult to trace. An Urban Institute study notes that the commercial sex trade economies in several major U.S. cities range from $39 to $290 million annually. Due to the complexity of human trafficking, law enforcement needs as many tools as possible to aid in the investigation and prosecution of traffickers.NOVA supports the work of Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick introducing legislation, The End Banking for Human Traffickers Act of 2019, to explore the extent of money laundering in trafficking operations and to encourage training and collaboration among law enforcement, the US Treasury, financial institutions and victims of human trafficking and their advocates to help put an end to this horrific crime.” - Penelope R. Ettinger, Executive Director, Network of Victim Assistance (NOVA), Bucks County
- “The Bucks County Women’s Advocacy Coalition applauds the effort by Congressman Fitzpatrick to put a spotlight on the money laundering by human traffickers with the introduction of HR295. The human trafficking industry requires bank accounts in order to process day to day operations and profits. Passage of this bill would raise awareness amongst our financial institutions in much the same way the hotel and travel industry have received similar legislative focus. The United States is a source and transit country for human trafficking, considered one of the top destination points for victims of child trafficking and exploitation. And while not generally known, there is a correlation between trafficking and terrorism since the fundamental sources for trafficking, corruption, terrorism and arms dealing are also linked. Raising awareness of the flow of funds and money laundering through our financial institution is another key factor in reducing cause and effect.” – Tam St.Claire, President Emerita, Bucks Co. Women’s Advocacy Coalition