A Polaris Project report has highlighted the current systems of ‘corporate secrecy’ as an inhibitor to exposing human trafficking networks. As a primary example, cases of illicit massage parlour businesses ‘flourish in secrecy’ due to the laws surrounding business registration, and the legal obfuscation of names of owners associated with businesses.
9000 parlours were analysed by a 2018 Polaris study in the United States, of which 6000 had no business records at all. 21% of these had an associated name listed, with no legal requirements to prove the identity legitimate. Although the current system lends towards business ownership anonymity at both a state and federal level, it is evident that this provides the opportunity for trafficking ring leaders to shield their identity, significantly limiting the capacity for regulation, enforcement and prosecution of traffickers.
In particular, effective law enforcement requires tackling the ownership of front businesses, which feed into larger organised crime networks. Not having the sufficient information contributes to a pattern of victim arrests during police raids, where owners are rarely on premises and usually untraceable. In order for enforcement operations to be effective, there is a demand for a policy shift that tightens the means to start an ‘official’ business, and the legal identification of owners to be essential for corporate transparency.
For the full report on How Corporate Secrecy Facilitates Human Trafficking, read here.