WASHINGTON, D.C. >> The End Banking for Human Traffickers Act, authored by Congressmen Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Bucks) and Bill Keating, passed the House Foreign Affairs Committee on March 7.

The legislation will help law enforcement and financial institutions identify and report suspected human traffickers so they can be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

“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. Today’s vote is another step we are taking to address this heinous crime.

The End Banking for Human Traffickers Act [H.R. 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 a “stakeholder” and provide feedback to the U.S. Treasury. It additionally clarifies that banks do not restrict trafficking victims’ access to bank accounts.

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.

What They’re Saying:

“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.” – Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12)