Archive for the ‘BIS’ Category


Aug

12

Friday Round-Up


Posted by at 4:28 pm on August 12, 2016
Category: BISDDTCOFACSDN List

Bumper Cars on the Boardwalk

Here are a few recent odds and ends that are worth a mention (and to catch up on a few things I missed while on vacation):

  • The Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (“DDTC”) issued guidance as to which activities are “gunsmithing” that do not require registration under part 122 and which are “manufacturing” and do require registration. This guidance defines “gunsmithing” and “manufacturing” completely differently from the definitions used by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (“ATF”). For example, assembling kits into guns is “manufacturing” according to ATF but not according to DDTC. On behalf of lawyers everywhere: Thanks, DDTC, for keeping us busy!
  • More revisions to the TAA Guidelines, which are longer and less interesting than all six volumes of Proust, were announced. These mostly take into account the new definitions of export, re-export and retransfer that were recently adopted as an interim final rule by DDTC. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, true export reform would get rid of the ridiculous TAA process entirely and make it similar to the  process used by the Bureau of Industry and Security (“BIS”) for licensing technology exports.
  • The United States Marshals Service (“USMS”) is auctioning off 2,719.32669068 bitcoins. You will be, I’m sure, relieved to know that the auction notice explicitly states that the USMS won’t accept any bids from anyone on OFAC’s SDN List. I wouldn’t want Eliot Ness going after Rooster Cogburn, even if it would make a better movie than Batman v. Superman.

Photo Credit: Bumper Cars on the Boardwalk by Clif Burns, via Flickr https://flic.kr/p/JXGCgz. Copyright 2016 Clif Burns

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Aug

9

Gone Fishin’ (Again)


Posted by at 11:49 pm on August 9, 2016
Category: BISCuba SanctionsOFAC

Boat in Ernest Hemingway International Billfishing Tournament via http://www.internationalhemingwaytournament.com/images/stories/fish/DSC_6712.jpg [Fair Use]Longtime friend and blog reader Pat had a good catch (so to speak) with respect to yesterday’s post on the Ernest Hemingway International Billfishing Tournament in Cuba. The post noted that participation in the tournament by U.S. persons might be covered by the new OFAC General License in section 515.567(b) relating to participation in competitions in Cuba. Whether that license would apply depends upon whether Cubans could participate in the tournament, something which I thought was perhaps affected by the high cost of participation in the tournament.

Even if the OFAC license applied, U.S. participants who wanted to take their own boats into Cuban waters would need to deal with the temporary export of the boat into Cuban territorial waters, an export controlled by BIS. I noted that BIS had granted such licenses, but Pat pointed out in a comment to yesterday’s post that last September BIS amended license exception AVS to permit temporary sojourns of less than 14 days by U.S. recreational boats in Cuban waters as long as it was pursuant to travel authorized by a general or specific license from OFAC.

That’s a great point, and I had forgotten about the amendment to License Exception AVS. It also, given the 14 day sojourn limitation, raises the issue of the OFAC rule in section 515.207 that prohibits a boat that has entered Cuban waters and purchased goods (in this case, think live bait) from entering a U.S. port for 180 days.

OFAC does have an exception in section 515.550 for return in advance of this date by “vessel used solely for personal travel (and not transporting passengers)” and where the export was covered by BIS’s license exception AVS. As usual, OFAC’s drafting leaves much to be desired given that the distinction between personal travel and transporting passengers may not always be clear. Probably the distinction rests on whether the other passengers are paying or not, excluding, I suppose, personal friends sharing expenses. But I’m not sure I would want to run the risk of overstepping this not very well drawn line.

What about chartering a fishing boat in Miami to participate in the tournament? Although that would still probably be a “recreational vessel” covered by license exception AVS, it’s not clear whether that would be personal travel (by the charterers) or transporting passengers (by the captain and crew). I, for one, would want specific guidance from OFAC before getting on that boat.

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Aug

8

Gone Fishin’


Posted by at 8:12 pm on August 8, 2016
Category: BISCuba SanctionsOFAC

Camellia George via http://www.kansascity.com/sports/outdoors/article94168762.html [Fair Use]
ABOVE: Messrs. Wilkins and
Whitlock in Cuba

[See update to this post here.]

Every year Cuba has an internationally famous sport fishing tournament. Fisherman from the United States have always cast envious eyes at the tournament just a short hop a way from U.S. territorial waters, but, obviously, the U.S. embargo on Cuba poses just a few tiny problems.

Stan Wilkins, a Kansas City lawyer just published an article in the Kansas City Star detailing his participation in the tournament with his friend Bob Whitlock, both pictured to the right with Havana in the background. This provides a good opportunity to discuss the regulatory requirements in play, particularly since Mr. Wilkins says little about how he actually managed to fish the tournament, other than to say, quite incorrectly, that “[f]ishermen may qualify for travel under the new ‘general license’ category.”

Given that there is no general license for “fishermen,” the general license that would most likely be relevant and available here is the one set forth in section 515.567(b). That general license covers “athletic and other competitions.” No offense to any fisherman out there, but I’d say that the fishing tournament is an “other.” (This is probably because when I go fishing it’s not terribly athletic. My arms mostly get used to carry the beer can to my mouth and almost never to pull an actual fish out of the water. For some reason, incomprehensible to me, fish always turn their noses up at my bait and lures.) Certainly, the people-to-people general license won’t work unless Cuban fish count.

There is, however, a significant qualification to the General License for athletic and other competitions: the competition must be “open for attendance, and in relevant situations participation, by the Cuban public.” I’d say that since you can’t attend a fishing tournament by, say, sitting in lawn chairs on the beach, this is one of those “relevant situations” where the tournament must be open to participation by Cubans.

The official website registration form does have “Cuba” listed as a country in its drop down list, so Cubans can, at least in theory, register and participate. But the site also lists a registration fee of 450 CUC (or about US$450). Given the average salary of Cubans is approximately $20 CUC per month, it seems fair to wonder if an event that requires an amount equal to 2 years salary is really open to Cubans. But I suppose setion 515.567(b) could be read to say that putting Cuba in the drop down list on the registration form is enough.

Readers of this blog, particularly those who remember the sad saga of a ship called Lethal Weapon, probably recognize another procedural hurdle to participation by U.S. fishermen, at least fishermen who want to use their own boats and equipment (which is, of course, more or less the point). Sailing into Cuba for the tournament is an export, albeit temporary, of the boat and requires a license from BIS. BIS has granted them in the past, with conditions, so this part is doable, even if it is another layer of red tape.

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Jun

28

ZTE Gets Last Minute Reprieve (Sort Of)


Posted by at 10:33 pm on June 28, 2016
Category: BISChinaEntity ListIran Sanctions

ZTE Stand 6 via http://www.zte.com.cn/cn/events/ces2013/show/201301/t20130110_381605.html [Fair Use]The Bureau of Industry and Security today announced that it was extending the Temporary General License which permitted exports to ZTE from June 30 all the way to August 30. ZTE, as this blog reported here, was placed on the Entity List because of elaborate shenanigans by the company by which it bought U.S. goods and resold them to Iran.

Two weeks after bringing the ban hammer down on ZTE, BIS issued a temporary general license which covered March 24 to June 30, more than three months. The new temporary license expires on August 30, one day short of two months from June 30. Why this temporary license is shorter than the previous one was not disclosed but one can only suspect that ZTE may not be minding its manners in the way that BIS would like to see.

The problem for U.S. exporters is that such a short license, with the real possibility, given its shortened length, that it may not be renewed beyond August 30, opens up the possibility that the exporter will sell items to ZTE that it may not later be able to service even though the warranty on those items is still in force. If the temporary general license is not renewed and ZTE stays on the list, the ability of the U.S. exporter to send replacement parts to ZTE or, alternatively, to repair the item in the United States and return it to ZTE will be in question. It would not surprise me if the temporary general license does not get much use.

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Copyright © 2016 Clif Burns. All Rights Reserved.
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Jun

21

Package Forwarder Coughs Up $60K For Export Violations


Posted by at 10:18 pm on June 21, 2016
Category: BISChina

Fulfill Your Packages HQ via Google Maps https://goo.gl/maps/gJ8z3G3j2gm [Fair Use]
ABOVE: Fulfill Your Packages HQ

The Bureau of Industry and Security (“BIS”) issued settlement documents last week indicating that a California company called Fulfill Your Packages agreed to pay a $250,000 fine, of which $190,000 was suspended if the company behaves itself for the next two years and commits no further export violations. At least from the facts recited by BIS, it’s a very odd case.

Fulfill Your Packages is apparently a company that agrees to serve as a local address for Chinese companies. Those companies order products from U.S. companies which Fulfill Your Packages dutiful re-packages and ships to China. Frankly, a better name for the company might be Ginormous Export Red Flag, Inc., but I suppose Fulfill Your Packages sounds better.

The violation arose from an unnamed Chinese company ordering an export controlled FLIR thermal imaging camera from an unnamed U.S. company which then shipped the camera to Fulfill Your Packages’ address in Portland, Oregon. The Google Street View of that address reveals a large warehouse. Google itself further reveals that the address is used by several logistics companies and, oddly, a liquor store.

When Fulfill Your Packages received the package, it dutifully repackaged the FLIR system and arranged for the USPS to pick up the package. For reasons that aren’t clear, Fulfill Your Packages described the item on shipping documents as “metal parts” even though its own order system described the item as an “infrared webcam/surveillance installation kit.” It also stated the value as $255 even though the distributor’s invoice for the camera received with the package listed the value at $2,617. It’s not clear at all why the company, for the small fee it was receiving, would falsify the export documents. It didn’t really have a dog in the race. Of course, it could be simple incompetence. Or perhaps it was some conspiracy with the Chinese purchaser for a large sum. There’s no way to tell.

But what about the distributor that shipped a FLIR system to a warehouse in Oregon for a Chinese customer? Don’t they bear some responsibility here? They didn’t ignore red flags, they ignored red banners the size of a skyscraper. Or maybe not. The BIS documents suggest that BIS thwarted the shipment before the USPS arrived to pick up the package. What likely happened here is that the distributor did do its job, did consult the all-knowing wizard of Google while evaluating the order, smelled a rat and called BIS.

The lesson here is that the Internet is your friend and that orders for export controlled items should not be fulfilled without doing the research that is now, literally, at your fingertips.

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Copyright © 2016 Clif Burns. All Rights Reserved.
(No republication, syndication or use permitted without my consent.)