WASHINGTON, D.C.— Yesterday, February 4th, 2021, Representatives Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-01), Bill Keating (MA-09), Michael McCaul (TX-10), and Carolyn Maloney (NY-12) re-introduced their End Banking for Human Traffickers Act. This bipartisan legislation would 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 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 the private sector, law enforcement, and experts in financial crimes by requiring the Financial Institutions Examination Council to review and enhance training and examination procedures to improve the capabilities of anti-money laundering and other efforts to detect financial transactions related to human trafficking. This review would also include enhancing procedures for referring potential cases of human trafficking to appropriate law enforcement agencies and determining whether requirements for financial institutions are sufficient to detect and deter money laundering and financial transactions relating to human trafficking. Additionally, the President's Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons would analyze current United States Government and financial institution anti-money laundering efforts and develop recommendations for Congress and regulators that would strengthen anti-money laundering programs to better target and combat human trafficking.
“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 Fitzpatrick. “Our End Banking for Human Traffickers Act will not only bolster our efforts to prevent human traffickers from using our domestic financial system but also sends a signal around the world to cut off traffickers from the global financial system.”
“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,” said Keating, Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Europe, Energy, Environment, and Cyber. “Human trafficking is one of the most profitable criminal enterprises in the world and we know these criminals take advantage of our banking and financial institutions. 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, Congressman McCaul, and Congresswoman Maloney on this common-sense, bipartisan legislation.”
“Human trafficking is a multi-billion dollar criminal industry that traps millions of people in a modern-day form of slavery. By working with law enforcement and financial institutions, the U.S. can obstruct traffickers’ monetary resources and save lives,” said McCaul, Ranking Member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. “During my time in Congress I have brought together local advocates, law enforcement, and survivors to find ways to combat this horrid crime - that is why I am so proud to support this legislation. The only way we can put an end to human trafficking is by working together at every level of society.”
“Since I came to Congress in 1993, eradicating human trafficking has been a top priority for me,” said Maloney, Chair of the House Oversight Committee. “It is completely unacceptable that still in 2021, modern-day slavery exists here in the U.S. Human trafficking is a $150 billion illegal industry, but traffickers are largely able to perpetrate their heinous crimes in the shadows and without accountability. Since the incentive to perpetrate these heinous crimes is financial, we need to attack the problem from a financial angle, too.”
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 are not hiding their illegal profits under a mattress or burying them in their back yard. 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.