Polaris, has announced the creation of a newly formed Financial Intelligence Unit. The Financial Intelligence Unit, which is made possible by financial and subject matter support from PayPal, is designed to leverage intelligence from the U.S. National Human Trafficking Hotline and other sources to interrupt trafficker cash flows and enable prosecutions for financial crimes including money laundering.
Through this initiative, these organizations, each with a long history and unique knowledge and expertise in combatting human trafficking, are teaming up to find new, innovative ways for the anti-money laundering community to recognize financial transactions that are red flags for human trafficking.
“Financial institutions have long been powerful partners in the fight against human trafficking,” said Sara Crowe, director of Polaris’s Strategic Initiative on Financial Systems. “Thanks to our partnership with PayPal, anti-money laundering professionals will have more opportunity than ever to share information, identify new techniques to effectively zero-in on those who profit off of the exploitation of others, and provide actionable information to law enforcement. In doing so, we help bring accountability to those who financially benefit from trafficking and restore freedom to countless thousands of people around the world.”
The concept of the Financial Intelligence Unit grew out of the findings from Polaris’s seminal report, On-Ramps, Intersections, and Exit Routes, which examined the roles of major private and public-sector systems and industries on the sex and labor trafficking ecosystems. Based on the findings of this report, Polaris concluded that the financial services industry, particularly companies like PayPal with global technology and financial services expertise, were best positioned to help solve the problem of human trafficking by making it more difficult for traffickers to move money.
“PayPal and Polaris coming together is a great example of private and non-profit entities joining forces to achieve a positive social impact that neither party could fully realize on their own,” said Aaron Karczmer, Chief Risk Officer and EVP, Risk, Regulatory, and Protection Services of PayPal. “We look forward to advancing new, innovative approaches to combating human trafficking with partners like Polaris, who, like PayPal, strive to create meaningful change on this important issue.”
Leaders in the anti-human trafficking field applauded the announcement. “Human trafficking exists for one simple reason: Profit,” said Luis C. deBaca, who served as Ambassador-at-Large to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons and as Director of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering, and Tracking. “As a former prosecutor, I know all too well just how difficult it is to hold people and businesses accountable for modern slavery. Working with financial institutions to understand how traffickers use their services has the potential to dramatically shift the trafficking equation, making exploitation more risky and therefore less profitable. That’s the kind of systems-level work that will make it possible to end this crime once and for all.”