Weaponizing Kindness and Compassion

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The horrific news in October that 39 people were found suffocated in a lorry about 25 miles east of London is just the latest reminder—a particularly shocking one— that the trafficking and smuggling of human beings remains a pervasive and persistent cancer in our world.

At this writing, the deaths have been connected to a transnational criminal human smuggling operation with links to Britain, China, Belgium, Ireland, Bulgaria and Vietnam, according to a New York Times  article.

At our Canada conference also in October, Timea Nagy, originally from Hungary, spoke of her own experience becoming a victim of transnational criminals when she accepted what she thought was an overseas babysitting job that turned into three months as a sex slave in Toronto strip clubs.

Conference attendees heard Timea describe how her traffickers—some of them from her homeland and all with international criminal connections—assaulted her, starved her and threatened her family in order to break her into an object they could sell.

Countering this unimaginable cruelty were people Timea encountered during her ordeal who extended themselves, often with small kindnesses, sometimes at personal risk. Ultimately, some of them worked together to help Timea escape her traffickers. (It is all there in her book, “Out of the Shadows”; find the short version of her story in my 10-minute interview with Timea: https://soundcloud.com/financialcrimematters/timeanagy.)

Financial crime fighters must be globalists

The death of 39 Vietnamese nationals in a refrigeration truck near London and Timea’s trauma are but two of millions of stories that involve exploitation and suffering. In a time of rising nationalism fanned more by tribalism than patriotism, they are both reminders that the crime of human trafficking and the misery of its victims are global—and that financial crime fighters must be globalists.

The increasing complexity of financial crime only makes the need to globalize our efforts more urgent.

The Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF’s) most recent virtual assets guidance sets standards for greater supervision by nations of the virtual assets and the virtual asset service providers that facilitate their creation and exchange. It concludes that national standards will need international cooperation to work.

The proceeds of transnational crime, whether in fiat or digital currencies, move easily across borders, necessitating international cooperation and the adoption of common legal standards. This is especially true, if the funds of human traffickers and other transnational criminals are to be identified and seized and their victims freed.

Efforts to catch the bad guys are otherwise doomed to fail at each nation’s border.

The Association of Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialists (ACAMS), which began as a U.S.-based organization, has grown to over 77,000 members worldwide on the wave of a snowballing consensus for common anti-financial crime standards and cross-border cooperation fueled by the efforts of FATF, the Egmont Group and law enforcement.

This issue of ACAMS Today  certainly crosses borders with articles from Peter Warrack on cryptocurrencies, maritime trade by Simon Ring, Christine Bopp’s sanctions compliance piece as well as contributions on the Asia-Pacific region and Europe. ACAMS also now produces Spanish, European and simplified and traditional Chinese editions.

On a personal note, listening to Timea at our Canada conference I was struck that—in addition to the importance of transnational cooperation—personal kindness and compassion remain among our most powerful weapons against human trafficking, both as professionals and as global citizens.

Kieran Beer, CAMS
Chief Analyst, Director of Editorial Content
Follow me on Twitter: @KieranBeer
“Financial Crime Matters with Kieran Beer”