Lesson of the day – Don’t Lie to the government!

This case is about making an intentionally false or misleading statement to the U.S. Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS). Carol Wilkins, an export manager apparently did, and will now pay $15,000 to the BIS. Important to note is that this export manager was fined individually. RF Micro Devices, Inc., the company Carol worked for, was fined $190,000 separate and apart from Carol. I don’t know about you, but shelling out 15k would definitely put a huge dent in my shopping fund.
The BIS Charging Letter discussed Ms. Wilkins’ false or misleading statement to the BIS. During the course of a BIS investigation, she allegedly told a BIS Special Agent that all product classifications were confirmed by an outside consultant to be EAR99 (no export license required). Apparently the consultant disagreed, and even kept the documentation in which the consultant had specifically advised Carol that the items were not EAR99, but in fact required a license. Carol might not have realized that the BIS Agents would be resourceful enough to confirm her statements to them by double checking with the consultant. Even I was always taught “trust but verify”. Not surprisingly, BIS is no different.
Second lesson of the day, before making a statement you’ll regret to government officials, call an attorney first.