penalty

Ford Motor Company Settles Claims Relating to Under-Valued Vehicles for $365M

Ford Motor Company has agreed to pay $365 million for allegedly misclassifying and understating the value of hundreds of thousands of vehicles.

According to the Department of Justice, Ford engaged in a scheme to avoid higher duties by misclassifying cargo vans. Between 2009 and 2013, the company imported Transit Connect cargo vans into the United States but presented them to Customs and Border Protection (CBP) with temporary seats and other features to make them appear to be passenger vehicles. The seats were never intended to carry passengers and Ford removed them as part of post-importation processing. The inclusion of the seats allowed Ford to avoid paying the 25% duty rate for cargo vehicles and instead they paid a duty rate of just 2.5%.

This case dates back to February 2012 when the Port of Baltimore advised Ford it was initiating an investigation into Ford’s classification practices. (Typically, prior to investigating an entity, CBP sends a request for information first. For more information on how this process typically begins read “Now, More than Ever, Be Wary of and Responsive to a CBP Form 28!”).

In 2013 Customs determined that the vans were improperly classified and liquidated the vehicles at the 25% duty rate. Ford protested, and Customs denied the protest. Ford then filed a complaint with the U.S. Court of International Trade (CIT). The CIT agreed with Ford, finding that Ford engaged in legitimate tariff engineering. The government appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit where […]

By |2024-03-15T14:49:39-04:00March 15, 2024|Import, penalty|0 Comments

Clothing Wholesaler Executive Avoids Paying Millions in Duties – Sentenced to 4 Years in Prison

Mohamed Daoud Ghacham, a 40-year-old executive from California has been sentenced to 48-months in prison for customs fraud. Ghacham, who was at the helm of a Paramount-based clothing wholesale company, engaged in a deceitful scheme that allowed his business to sidestep paying millions in customs duties on imported garments.

United States District Judge Maame Ewusi-Mensah Frimpong handed down the sentence, which also includes a restitution payment of $6,390,781.

The fraudulent operation involved importing clothing from China and presenting U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) with a fraudulent second invoice with a lowered value. At Ghacham’s direction, Chinese suppliers would prepare two invoices for orders – a true invoice with the actual price paid and a fraudulent invoice with an understated price. Ghacham submitted the false invoices to CBP, allowing them to avoid millions of dollars in duties for over a decade.

Ghacham also faced charges related to conspiring to engage in transactions with a known narcotics trafficker.

The sentencing of Ghacham and his company concludes a comprehensive investigation by Homeland Security Investigations and CBP, with assistance from the U.S. Department of Commerce Office of Export Enforcement, the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, and IRS Criminal Investigation.

This case underscores the U.S. government’s unwavering commitment to enforcing its customs laws and the severe consequences for those who choose to circumvent them.

Interested in learning more about CBP enforcement? Check out our upcoming webinar on the False Claims Act (FCA). We will discuss damages and criminal liability for making false claims to the government, whistleblower […]

By |2024-03-15T14:25:27-04:00March 15, 2024|Import, penalty|0 Comments

ICYMI: U.S. & Chinese Companies Fined $2.5 Million for Underpaying Customs Duties, Whistleblowers to Receive $500,000

Earlier this month, the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas announced that a Dallas-based importer, two individuals, and two Chinese companies agreed to pay $2.5 million to resolve allegations that they failed to pay customs duties on imports.

Underpaying Through Duplicate Invoices

ADCO, a Dallas-based importer of industrial products, the company owner Raymond E. Davis, customs broker Calvin Chang, and Chinese companies Xiamen Atlantis MFC Co., Ltd. and Xiamen Taft Medical Co., Ltd conspired to underreport the value of goods they were importing.

The scheme involved falsifying invoices with low values for goods ADCO was importing from China. The company used a separate set of invoices that contained the correct value of goods to ensure that ADCO paid its suppliers the actual value of the goods.

In investigating the scheme, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and CBP’s Consumer Products and Mass Merchandising Center of Excellence and Expertise reviewed over 1,000 import entry lines.

Qui Tam Lawsuit

The settlement with the government resolved a “qui tam” lawsuit filed under the False Claims Act (FCA). A qui tam lawsuit is one that is brought by a private citizen or company against a defendant or defendants that owe money to the government.

When a qui tam lawsuit is successful, the party that initiated the case—called a “relator”—is entitled to a substantial monetary reward, ranging between 15% and 30% of the amount recovered for the government.  A qui tam lawsuit also engages the U.S. Department of Justice (“DOJ”) in the case, and typically results in the opening of […]

U.S. Customs – Your Personal Policeman at the Border

Introduction 

Many companies mistakenly believe that registering a trademark or copyright with the U.S. Government provides sufficient protection and remedies. However, there is an additional step that can significantly enhance protection—recording trademarks or copyrights with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (U.S. Customs).  

This blog explores the distinct goals of these processes and the advantages of recording intellectual property with the U.S. Customs. 

I. Registering with USPTO and Recording with U.S. Customs: Different Goals

  • Registering with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) or U.S. Copyright Office gives public notice of ownership. 
  • Recording with U.S. Customs aims to prevent unauthorized importation of merchandise bearing the registered intellectual property. 
  • U.S. Customs serves as a critical partner in halting counterfeit and infringing products from entering or leaving the United States.

II. Benefits of Recording Trademarks or Copyrights with U.S. Customs

Seizure and Monitoring: 

  • U.S. Customs monitors and seizes infringing merchandise at ports of entry, alleviating the burden on trademark or copyright holders. 
  • This proactive approach eliminates the need to individually locate and prosecute every unauthorized importer, distributor, or retailer, safeguarding intellectual […]

UFLPA DHS Forced Labor Guidance – What Importers Need to Know

On June 17,  2022, DHS published its long-awaited strategy guidance document which shed light on how UFLPA will be implemented, and what evidence may be provided to rebut the presumption that the goods were made with forced labor. This article provides an overview of the type of evidence importers should have readily available when importing goods into the United States. For general guidance on preventing the importation of goods produced with forced labor and how importers should audit their supply chain to ensure non-use of forced labor, please refer to our Bloomberg Law article, “U.S. Customs Targets Use of Forced Labor”.

UFLPA

The Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (UFLPA) establishes a rebuttable presumption that goods mined, produced, or manufactured wholly or in part in the Xinjiang Province of China or by an entity on the UFLPA Entity List are prohibited from importation into the United States under 19 U.S.C. § 1307. However, if an Importer of Record can demonstrate by clear and convincing evidence that the goods in question were not produced wholly or in part by forced labor, fully respond to all CBP requests for information about goods under CBP review and demonstrate that it has fully complied with the guidance outlined in this strategy, the Commissioner of CBP may grant an exception to the presumption.

Clear and convincing evidence is a higher standard of proof than a preponderance of the evidence, and generally means that a claim or […]

Go to Top