On 10 February, the Guardian carried an article saying that the EU is clamping down on 82 free ports or free zones after identifying that their special tariff and duty status has aided the financing of terrorism, money laundering and organised crime.  Since 10 January EU Member States (including the UK until December…) have to take extra measures to identify and report suspicious activities at the ports and zones as a result of the “high incidence of corruption, tax evasion, criminal activity”, and the situation will be reviewed in a year’s time.  The UK plans to open its first new free ports (they died a death in the UK years ago, largely as seen to be offering no real advantages over other forms of customs warehousing under EU law) in 2021.  The EU identified problems with some existing free ports (or “free zones” as EU law refers to them), including high net worth individuals using them for the storage of art, precious stones, antiques, gold and wine as alternative assets to cash; allow counterfeiters to land consignments, tamper with loads or associated paperwork and re-export the products without customs intervention; disguising the true origin and nature of goods, and the identity of the original supplier; and use in narcotics trafficking, the illegal ivory trade, people smuggling, VAT fraud, corruption and money laundering.

Author: raytodd2017

Chartered Legal Executive and former senior manager with Isle of Man Customs and Excise, where I was (amongst other things) Sanctions Officer (for UN/EU sanctions), Export Licensing Officer and Manager of the Legal-Library & Collectorate Support Section

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