Top US customs official seeks more authority to catch trade cheats

US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) executive assistant commissioner, Brenda Smith, has said her agency needs more authority to curb trade cheats.

Smith was appearing before a Senate finance committee hearing focused on counterfeit imports during which she indicated that additional powers would also help the agency identify possible cases of trade-based money laundering (TBML).

Suspicious entities

During the hearing, senator Bill Cassidy asked Smith whether CBP, when it learns that a firm is potentially selling counterfeits, triggers an investigation of an entire business for other potential lawlessness, such as TBML.

Smith replied that once the agency identifies a suspicious entity, it endeavours to take a “broad-based approach to looking at all of their business activity”.

Interagency approach

But she said it can be difficult to stop their illicit activity sometimes, because “oftentimes, they will disappear,” and must then be found by other agencies.

“We are also looking to make sure that, when we see a pattern of conduct from one business entity, that we look for that same pattern of conduct in similar types of businesses.”

Growing TBML interest

The raising of trade-based financial crime at the hearing indicates a heightened awareness of this type of criminality in the Senate.

Several senators and witnesses agreed during a February senate judiciary committee hearing that the True Incorporation Transparency for Law Enforcement Act pending in the committee would help restrict US exposure to trade related crimes, including TBML and intellectual property related violations such as counterfeit sales.

The bill would also require disclosure of beneficial ownership during a company’s incorporation process in the US.

Categories: Trade Based Financial crimes News

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