New research reveals over a third of banks struggle to spot signs of human trafficking in their systems

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5 October 2020

A new global research report published today has revealed that financial institutions are struggling to detect money laundering crimes

A new global research report published today has revealed that financial institutions are struggling to detect money laundering crimes

The findings of the report, from BAE Systems’ Applied Intelligence business, suggest that banks are unable to keep up with the 22 crimes defined by the EUs 6th Anti-Money Laundering Directive, with human trafficking emerging as one of the most prevalent problems.The report is the combined study of two global pieces of research among 452 respondents working in compliance or risk management across the financial services sector and more than 6,000 consumers in six markets.

Human trafficking: a very real threat in 2020

According to the UN, there are an estimated 25 million victims of trafficking worldwide, making this crime one of the most prevalent money laundering offences globally. The problem continues to rise with banks and other financial institutions struggling to spot and stop offences among their transactions. The most recent research from BAE Systems found over a third (36%) of financial services professionals aren’t confident in spotting signs of human trafficking in their customers’ transactions. A further 28% have stated that financial crimes leading to human trafficking already account for significant financial losses for them. And, looking at further recent data, the projected total cost to financial institutions to detect financial crime stands at $180.9 billion globally, $138.8 billion in Europe.Further to this, over a quarter (26%) of financial institutions admitted to having to report and investigate criminal financial activity linked to human trafficking and almost three-quarters (75%) aren’t confident in their ability to identify human trafficking signs amongst transactions.

Customers willing to leave banks that don’t demonstrate a strong ethical stance

Having a conscience is key to brand loyalty according to the consumer respondents surveyed. Three-quarters (75%) of customers would leave their bank or financial institution if they fail to demonstrate proactive approach to money laundering/ethical practices linked to money laundering. 84% of those surveyed globally believe that it is important for banks to demonstrate conscience through good ethical practices. When the financial institutions were questioned on this same topic, almost a half (43%) report money laundering to regulatory bodies as they understand customers want to know their bank is ethical.

News article details

Corporate Banking, Retail Banking
Media Type
Press Releases
Geographic Focus
Asia-Pacific, EMEA, North America