Department of Justice

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: Commerce, Treasury, and Justice Issue Compliance Note on Obligations of Foreign-Based Persons to Comply with U.S. Export Laws

On March 6, 2024, the Department of Commerce, Department of the Treasury, and Department of Justice issued a tri-seal compliance note titled: “Obligations of foreign-based persons to comply with U.S. sanctions and export control laws.”

The note:

  1. Highlights the applicability of U.S. sanctions and export control laws to persons and entities located abroad;
  2. Outlines the enforcement mechanisms that are available for the U.S. government to hold non-U.S. persons accountable for violations of such laws; and
  3. Provides an overview of compliance considerations for non-U.S. companies and compliance measures to help mitigate their risk

Applicability of U.S. Sanctions and Export Control Laws to Foreign-Based Persons

The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) administers and enforces economic and trade sanctions, primarily against foreign jurisdictions but also against individuals and entities such as traffickers and terrorists.

The following persons/entities must comply with OFAC regulations:

  • U.S. citizens and permanent resident aliens
  • All persons within the United States
  • All U.S.-incorporated entities and their foreign branches

In certain sanctions programs, foreign entities owned or controlled by U.S. persons also must comply with applicable restrictions – such as engaging in a transaction with the government of Iran. Certain sanctions programs also require foreign persons in possession of U.S.-origin goods to comply.

Non-U.S. persons are also subject to certain OFAC prohibitions. For example, non-U.S. persons are prohibited from causing or conspiring to cause U.S. persons to wittingly or unwittingly violate U.S. sanctions, as well as engaging in conduct that evades U.S. sanctions.

Applicability of U.S. Export Control Laws

The compliance […]

Customs Undervaluation- It’s a Crime

Customs Valuation is a procedure to determine the customs value of imported goods. The customs value is essential to calculate the total duty to be paid on an imported good. As part of its agreement with the World Trade Organization (“WTO”), the U.S. is part of an internationally standardized system of valuing imports. This standardized system allows for CBP to protect revenue, ensure reasonable care from importers, and accurately calculate Census trade statistics. Accordingly, it is critical to declare the value of importations accurately and compliantly. 

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) valuation methodology (as well as a summary of relevant Customs rulings) are described in detail in the Valuation Encyclopedia (i.e., the best resource on valuation inquiries). CBP permits merchandise to be valued according to one of the six valuation methods listed below. The methods are applied sequentially from first to last until an applicable value is determined. If the first method does not apply, the importer must then evaluate the second, and so on, until an appropriate method applies. The only exception to this sequential evaluation requirement is when evaluating between deductive value and computed value – an importer may choose to use the computed value before the deductive value.

Methods of Valuation:

  1. The transaction value of imported merchandise (the majority of imports use transaction value – i.e., the price paid or payable plus assists (see below))
  2. The transaction value of identical merchandise
  3. The transaction value of similar merchandise
  4. Deductive value
  5. Computed […]

Your Data is NOT Your Own at the Border

On November 15, 2017, DTL’s very own Jennifer Diaz, along with other experts, spoke at the AILA CLE Luncheon on travelers’ rights when encountering U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) at airports and other ports of entry. As international travel continues to grow, coupled with increase national security efforts, it is imperative travelers know their rights when entering or exiting the U.S. Travelers enjoy taking their electronic devices with them for pleasure and/or work. Electronic devices hold considerable amounts of our personal or privileged information. 

What is CBP’s Policy? […]

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