Police forces and fnancial aspects

Human trafficking perpetrators are mainly motivated by financial gains. THB for labour exploitation is a very profitable and lucrative business for criminals. A more effective use of financial investigations in THB cases is necessary to take away the criminal proceeds, since this will hurt the criminals the most.

For financial investigations to be a success, criminal investigators could:

Conduct a financial investigation as part of every investigation

Traffickers are motivated by greed, so going after criminal profits will hopefully hit them where it hurts. A financial investigation can be used to investigate the THB offence by following the money trail to see where it leads. It can also be seen as a separate investigation to identify assets that may be seized.

Freeze or seize criminal assets as soon as possible

Ideally, every investigation into THB for labour exploitation should look at the start for assets to freeze. That way, assets can be seized eventually, since assets cannot be moved or disappear once they are frozen.

For example, the Criminal Assets Bureau of Ireland can work with Immigration Police to seize assets from traffickers that are acquired through criminal activity. The level of proof that is necessary is the civil standard of ‘balance of probability’, instead of the criminal standard of proof of ‘beyond reasonable doubt’.

Check the assets of family and associates of suspects

To prevent assets from being traced, criminals will often put their assets in the name of a family member or associate. Investigators therefore need to look beyond the criminal’s own assets when trying to locate criminal proceeds.

In some member states, it was not possible to seize criminal assets when they were in someone else’s name. However, new EU legislation means that from 4 October 2015 confiscation from a third party should be possible in all member states.

Seize cash

Investigators could seize all amounts of cash for which suspects can give no reasonable explanation.

Build up expertise on cross-border money flows and underground banking

In many cases, criminal proceeds are moved to other countries. Or they may be removed from standard banking and other financial markets. A criminal’s money may use other financial networks such as bitcoins, which can make it difficult to trace assets. Financial investigators will therefore need expertise on how criminals obtain and move money, including through underground banking.

Consult expertise of (international) partners

To collect and interpret all relevant information and possibly to impose taxes or fines, the police may need the powers and expertise of others. For example, labour inspectorates, tax authorities or accountants. They may also need their counterparts in the country of origin or destination to give financial information or to seize assets.

Share information with Europol’s Focal Point Sustrans

Europol supports on-going cases of member states on money laundering through Focal Point Sustrans.

Cooperate with Financial Intelligence Units (FIUs)

FIUs serve as national intelligence centres in the fight against financial criminal activities, money laundering and terrorism. They receive financial intelligence, for example suspicious transaction or activity reports. FIUs can provide useful and timely international cooperation on cases of THB for labour exploitation with their counterparts in other member states. They do this both directly and through the FIU.net Information Exchange System. This system is in the process of being embedded into Europol’s Secure Information Exchange Network Application (SIENA).

Use the CARIN network

CARIN (Camden Asset Recovery Inter-Agency Network) can increase the effectiveness of the efforts of its members to take illicit profits from criminals. CARIN works on a multi-agency basis and can for example assist:

  • in locating bank and investment accounts, real estate, companies, cars, boats, aircrafts, through law enforcement or public information
  • in discovering where and how assets associated with suspects may be hidden or concealed using corporate structures, nominees, trusts, and so on
  • in the process of asking another jurisdiction to freeze or seize assets in the case or investigation
  • in the process of determining how to agree on repatriating the assets to the government from a jurisdiction that has confiscated and/or liquidated an asset.

CARIN has 68 registered members: 54 states and jurisdictions, including all 28 EU member states, 9 international organisations and 5 regional network secretariats.

More information about the CARIN network.

Have national Asset Recovery Offices (AROs) facilitate the tracing and identification of assets

National Asset Recovery Offices (AROs) help in taking criminal profits from criminals. They identify assets that have been illegally acquired on their territories. They also facilitate the exchange of relevant information at European level.

More information on the Asset Recovery Offices (AROs).

Improve intelligence on organised crime money flows

Enhancing intelligence on money flows can help to disrupt and discourage criminal groups. Money flow intelligence could help to solve complex cases and dismantle criminal organisations.

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Read more general information on the financial aspects of THB for labour exploitation.