On 29-30 April 2015 Europol organised a Human Trafficking Expert Meeting focusing on financial investigations and asset recovery. The meeting gathered experts in the trafficking of human beings (THB), financial specialists, tax officers and prosecutors, who discussed the importance of financial investigations as part of any counter-THB response. In this way, the criminal infrastructure can be disrupted by gathering evidence and increasing the confiscation and recovery of criminal assets.
THB is an insidious form of organised criminal activity. It violates the human rights of victims, causes lasting psychological harm, generates significant profits for organised criminal groups (OCGS) and undermines the legal economy. The constant demand for services associated with sexual and labour exploitation, and persistent socio-economic inequalities between the developed and developing world, drive human trafficking. OCGs involved in THB will seek to exploit the strong demand and ready supply of vulnerable people by recruiting victims and servicing exploitative markets in prosperous EU Member States. Exploitation of the victims always generates huge profits for the criminal networks.
This week's meeting looked into the business model used by human trafficking networks, with a special focus on the money flows as well as the objectives and benefits of financial investigations, including their judicial framework, investigative techniques and a multi-disciplinary approach. It also promoted cooperation between law enforcement and financial intelligence units.
This expert meeting was organised within the framework of the support provided by Europol to the implementation of the 'EU Strategy towards the Eradication of Trafficking in Human Beings' (2012-2016). The focus of the meeting is in line with the current THB EMPACT OAP* which includes one strategic goal with three actions led by the Netherlands, specifically focusing on financial investigations and the confiscation and recovery of assets.
* European Multidisciplinary Platform against Criminal Threats, operational action plan (EMPACT OAP)