In his always informative and helpful blog, Kenneth Rijock directs one to the report from the US Governmental Accountability Office in April.  This report followed a study published by the GAO dated December 2019 (see an article about the study at –

The latter includes presentation slides on the December study.

This new report examines –

  • what the available evidence indicates about the types and extent of international TBML activities;
  • the practices international bodies, selected countries, and knowledgeable sources have recommended for detecting and combating TBML; and
  • the extent to which ICE has effectively implemented the Trade Transparency Unit (TTU) programme and steps the US government has taken to collaborate with international partners to combat TBML.

GAO says that it analyed US agency and international body data and documentation, conducted a literature review, and interviewed U.S. officials and selected knowledgeable sources.

GAO recommends that DHS develop –

  • a strategy to maximize TTU program effectiveness; and
  • a performance monitoring framework for the TTU programme.

DHS concurred with the first, but did not concur with the second recommendation, citing data it already collects and challenges it faces.  GAO continues to believe the recommendation is valid, as discussed in the report.

The TTU is a programme involving 17 partner countries, the first being established in 2005.  The goal is to exchange trade data with partner TTU to allow agencies in each country to work together to better identify anomalies in trade data that may indicate TBML. For example, through the analysis of shared trade data, the partners may be able to determine if there is a discrepancy between the reported value of goods when they leave the US and the reported value of the goods when they arrive in the partner country (and vice versa).





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On 23 May, Swissinfo and others reported that civil society groups have accused the Zug-based oil trader Kolmar of complicity in war crimes related to the purchase of oil from war-torn Libya.  TRIAL International alleges that Kolmar Group illegally smuggled oil from Libya between 2014 and 2015.  Meanwhile, the Times of Malta links the report to Malta being reportedly at the centre of a well-coordinated multimillion fuel smuggling operation, with stolen Libyan fuel traded easily in Maltese territorial waters and through established storage facilities inside the Grand Harbour and Birżebbuġa.  The latter newspaper says that the operation started following the 2011 collapse of Libya’s Gaddafi regime, evolved into a large criminal organisation coordinated by Maltese, Libyan and Sicilian businessmen.  It is claimed that the Swiss trader purchased more than 50,000 tonnes of gasoil stored in tanks in the Grand Harbour between 2014 and 2015.


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