Banks and financial institutions across Asia are one of the most effective vehicles to identify and combat human trafficking in the region, according to LexisNexis Risk Solutions Asia head of Financial Crime Compliance David Haynes.
He was commenting earlier this week on the occasion of the World Day against Trafficking in Persons. The Global Slavery Index estimated there were 45.8 million victims of modern slavery, in 2016. Most of the victims are involved in making the products we buy or harvesting the food we eat. It is estimated that there are 25 million modern slaves in Asia, 66% of whom are in forced labour.
Mr Haynes said there are close links between human trafficking, money laundering and terrorist financing offences. Human trafficking is often intertwined with organized criminal units and terrorist organizations, smuggling and bribery and corruption.
"We are finding that the private sector, particularly the manufacturing industry, is now very alert to ensuring their supply chains are free of forced labour. Many large companies are now actively screening every part of their supply chain to identify any issues," he said.
"As part of AML (anti-money laundering) and CTF (counter-terrorist financing) regulations we now see banks, and increasingly e-commerce companies, retailers and telecommunication companies screening for financial connections to human trafficking."
Mr Haynes said technology underpinning the financial system offered one means of helping to identify human traffickers by allowing banks and law enforcement to uncover patterns of behaviour that are common to this type of criminal.
"Linking people movement, habits and financial data through sophisticated analytic linking technology can help banks and other companies understand those networks of human traffickers, their money movement and identify those bad actors more quickly," he said.
In Asia Pacific, LexisNexis Risk Solutions works with advocacy groups dedicated to fighting human trafficking, including The Mekong Club and Liberty Asia.