About 70 per cent of the prostitutes in Belgium were from Bulgaria, a report by RiskMonitor foundation said, as quoted by private national broadcaster Darik Radio on April 7 2009.
The report, presented at a conference on fighting human trafficking hosted by RiskMonitor and the Bulgarian Investigative Service in Sofia, outlined new trends in women trafficking involving Bulgaria.
There was a high number of Bulgarian women being coerced as prostitutes in the Republic of South Africa and the US, which was a new trend, the report said. Bulgarian mafia made 1 350 000 euro from the trafficking of about 10 000 people a year, according to the report.
The money laundering schemes included luxury boutiques and car dealerships. The latest scheme involved investment in agriculture.
According to Dobromir Dochev of the Interior Ministry, Bulgaria had the third-largest number of human trafficking victims of any country in Europe. Bulgaria also served as a transit point for human trafficking from Russia, Moldova and Ukraine to Western Europe.
Belgium, Spain, Germany, France and Germany were the main countries where Bulgarians ended up as human trafficking victims, he said, as quoted by Bulgarian news agency Focus.
A serious problem was the trafficking of children who are used for begging on the streets in Western countries. These children were predominantly of Roma origin and aged between eight and 14 years. Another scheme involved the trafficking of pregnant women who returned without their children.
Sending human traffickers to jail was not a good enough measure against human trafficking, Alexander Karagiannis, deputy chief of mission of the US embassy in Sofia, was quoted by Bulgarian news agency BTA as saying at the forum. What had to be done was to cut off their financial resources, he said.
Bulgaria had made progress in fighting money laundering, but not sufficiently, he said. The country has not yet reached international standards in applying all the legislative procedures and rules against money laundering, Karagiannis said.
The US was ready to aid Bulgaria in this respect. One recommendation was for a legal requirement to formally declare all bank transactions above 30 000 leva, he said.
Bulgaria was on the front line in the fight against human trafficking, which would only increase because of the ongoing financial and economic crisis, Karagiannis said.