Lesson of the day – Don’t make an intentionally false or misleading statement to the U.S. Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS)! Carol Wilkins 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.
From at least 2002-2003, a responsibility of Carol’s was export control compliance for RF Micro Devices, Inc. The company had exported spread-spectrum modems which are properly classified as ECCN 5A001 to China. Yet, the company did not obtain the required license from the BIS.
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. Carol might not have realized how resourceful the BIS Agents could be as she may not have realized that BIS Agents would confirm her statements to them by doublechecking with the consultant. Even I was always taught “trust but verify”. BIS is no different in this case.
Whenever you are going to be interviewed by a Special Agent of BIS or any other Federal law enforcement agency, always remember two things: (1) tell the truth, and (2) seek the advice of legal counsel.