Financial aspects of the process of THB for labour exploitation

The process of THB for labour exploitation has six steps or aspects: recruitment, entry and identity, residence status, housing, work, and financial aspects. These are all things traffickers have to organise before they can start profiting from the exploitation of others. For prosecution services, the financial aspects provide a point of intervention in this process.

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.

To make sure that THB for labour exploitation does not pay and that victims are properly compensated, prosecutors could:

Confiscate the assets of traffickers at the earliest possibility

Prosecutors could confiscate the assets of traffickers as soon as the case allows it. That way, traffickers do not get the chance to transfer their assets to a place where the authorities cannot reach them.

Ask the judge to recover the trafficker’s money and assets

Prosecutors can ask the judge to deprive the trafficker(s) of the money and assets they earned by exploiting the victims. These assets may later be used for any compensation the victim is awarded as part of a criminal or civil case.

Ask Eurojust for support and advice

Eurojust can assist member states to identify, seize and confiscate the assets of suspects and to return those assets from one member state to another.

For example, a coordination meeting at Eurojust helped German and Bulgarian authorities to exchange information about the seizure and storage costs of a luxury car in Germany. The car belonged to a person convicted in Bulgaria. In the next coordination meeting at Eurojust, it was agreed that the car would be sold in Germany; the money from the sale would go to Bulgaria.

Read more about the role of EU agencies like Eurojust.

Pay attention to possible challenges

Eurojust’s Mid-term report on the Implementation of the Eurojust Action Plan against THB 2012-2016  mentions that:

‘... in the process of freezing and confiscating assets related to THB, prosecution services could expect the following challenges:

  • proceeds of THB could be quickly transferred out of the country;
  • proceeds of THB could be spent in cash as part of an expensive lifestyle and
  • proceeds of THB could be re-invested in criminal enterprises without being laundered and therefore it could be particularly difficult to identify and confiscate.’

Read more

The Dutch authorities apply the so-called barrier model to the six aspects of THB for labour exploitation.