Sunday 15 September 2019

ABN Amro algorithm identifies signs of human trafficking

Illustration: Depositphotos.com

Social affairs ministry inspectors, the police and ABN Amro have been working on a pilot project analysing private bank account transactions to establish if people are being exploited by their employer or are the victims of human trafficking.

So far the bank has identified 65 ‘unusual situations’ and reported them to the police financial intelligence unit FIU, an ABN Amro spokeswoman told DutchNews.nl. ABN Amro began working on the project in 2015 in the wake of a conference it had organised on human rights.

Until recently, ministry inspectors depended on actual reports and inspections to tackle human trafficking and exploitation cases and asked banks for information if they had suspicions about certain people or companies.

Now, however, the bank is taking the initiative to identify potential problems using an algorithm based on 30 variables.

For example, if someone regularly withdraws their entire salary as cash shortly after it has been paid into their bank account, this could indicate that they are being ordered by someone to hand over their earnings, Trouw reported on Monday.

The algorithm also takes whether ‘someone is from eastern Europe or Asia’ into account, Trouw said.

The social affairs ministry told DutchNews.nl it would not comment on how many concrete cases of exploitation or trafficking the pilot project identified. The ministry also declined to answer questions about what indicators the algorithm took into account.

According to Trouw, other Dutch banks will join the project from March 1 but the ministry also declined to say which ones.

ABN Amro told DutchNews.nl that no individual bank accounts are being actively monitored.

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