April 3 - It is not always easy for those involved in the air freight industry to recognise when they are breaking international sanctions rules, delegates to the Baltic Air Charter Association's latest training day were somewhat surprised to learn.

"It is not simply a matter of having a list of countries and products subject to sanctions and working from that," saidSam Mason from asb law LLP. The use of 'front companies' and the carriage of 'dual purpose' items can hide the true nature of the cargo.

"Parts for the oil and gas industry, something as simple as batteries, can seem innocuous but may be on the banned list if used for other purposes, as a recent high profile case has shown," he explained. "Or a company seeking to charter the aircraft may be acting, through a series of obscure links, for another company from a country subject to sanctions."

His colleague Humphrey Dawson highlighted South Sudan as an example of a sanction that is easy to miss: South Sudan itself is not subject to sanctions, but the banking system in South Sudan is very limited and often payments are routed via banks in Khartoum in Sudan, which is subject to sanctions.

Penalties for breaking sanctions can be very severe, especially in the United States, including confiscation of all profits and assets, or even prison terms for company directors.

Mr Mason said that ways to ensure compliance include knowing your clients, keeping your sanctions information up to date, training your staff to understand how sanctions work and also keeping vigilant if something arouses suspicions.

The Baltic Air Charter Association (BACA), whose members include air charter brokers, airlines, airports, consultants and others in the commercial aviation field, runs regular free training days for its members to help them maintain the highest professional standards. This training day was organised and provided free of charge to the members by Richard Mumford, head of aviation disputes at asb law LLP, a specialist aviation commercial law firm.

The aviation law training day also included an overview of air law - how and why the industry is so heavily regulated, as well as sessions on the Bribery Act 2010, and how to ensure your charter contract covers all contingencies. The day ended with a session by Abigail Pollard of Blake Emergency Services on dealing with an aircraft crash.

Markham Jackson, Chief Executive of BACA, says the course proved so popular that the association is planning another training day in the autumn.

BACA was set up more than 60 years ago, as the air charter arm of the mainly maritime Baltic Exchange, and has members from all around the world.