Keating, Fitzpatrick Lead Effort Against Human Traffickers

Washington, DC—Congressmen Bill Keating (D-MA) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) 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 (HR 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.

“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 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.”

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).

“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,” said 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,” said Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12).

Congressman Keating previously introduced this legislation last Congress with former Foreign Affairs Chairman Ed Royce, former Congresswoman Mia Love, and Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney.