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October 14, 2015

Thomson Reuters, Liberty Asia Report Finds Financial Records Help Prevent Human Trafficking; Actionable Information In Short Supply

Hong Kong – Data collected by regulated financial systems is a powerful tool for combating human trafficking and freeing more than 30 million people from modern-day slavery. That is the conclusion of the first joint report by Thomson Reuters and Liberty Asia, a leading anti-slavery organization, as part of a partnership announced in June.

Collaboration by the two organizations has already resulted in convicted criminals being added to Thomson Reuters World-Check, a global database. The organizations also work together to train analysts and investigators to gather reliable new data.

The report, The Role of Intelligence in the Disruption of Human Trafficking, Slavery and Forced Labour,” calls for a comprehensive approach by governments, law enforcement and human rights advocates; organizations and corporations, as well as financial institutions that comprise the global financial system, to ensure human trafficking is stopped and the perpetrators face justice.

According to the Global Slavery Index, almost 36 million people around the world live as modern-day slaves, driving a growing industry worth over US$150 billion in profits a year. Yet prosecution rates for human traffickers have remained low due to complexity of the crime, lack of legislation or enforcement, and corruption. As a result, it is difficult for companies to protect themselves against these risks and to comply with increasing regulations.

The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) has included human trafficking as part of the list of crimes involved in money laundering for a number of years. In the Asia-Pacific region, which has the highest number of trafficked individuals, Know Your Customer (KYC) and Know Your Supplier (KYS) processes and due diligence controls are needed to protect the businesses and supply chains from human trafficking and other illegal activities.

The report found that financial records are one of the most valuable sources of information during investigation, but actionable information on human trafficking and forced labour is still in short supply.

“Thomson Reuters helps customers understand the sensitive issue of modern-day slavery and exploitation and identifies how their business operations could be exposed to hidden risks,” said Phil Cotter, Managing Director of Risk Segment at Thomson Reuters. “When deployed correctly, technology makes information intelligent, uncovering criminal activity that can be masked in layered supply chains and partner networks. Our screening and due diligence tools are helping financial institutions and corporations identify numerous suspicious activities, including human trafficking.”

"There are still many ways to reduce the world's dependency on modern slavery that are yet to be fully utilized,” said Duncan Jepson, founder of Liberty Asia. “Working with Thomson Reuters, and World-Check in particular, creates a crucial link between those involved, those who benefit and those who become caught up in this crime."

In addition to Liberty Asia, Thomson Reuters partners with Verité, another leading anti-slavery NGO, to use data analytics to track human traffickers. Both relationships were announced in June at the inaugural Trust Forum Asia, which was jointly organized with the Thomson Reuters Foundation to raise awareness of human trafficking and find tangible solutions through collaborative efforts between government, charities and corporates.

World-Check is Thomson Reuters source of intelligence on politically-exposed persons (PEPs) and heightened risk individuals and organizations globally. World-Check data helps customers comply with legislation and regulations for preventing anti-money laundering, threat financing, anti-corruption, organized crime, third party risk and other financial crimes. World-Check contains over 12,000 profiles linked to child and slave labor, migrant smuggling, sex trafficking and human trafficking.

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