Importer and company executives pay $5.2 million penalty under the FCA.

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Photo by Curtis Adams on Pexels.com

The DOJ recently announced a $5.2 million settlement from importer, Blue Furniture Solutions, LLC, based on alleged importation of merchandise into the United States using false descriptions and invoices that claimed the merchandise was not within the scope of the antidumping duties on wooden bedroom furniture from China.

A whistleblower under the FCA’s qui tam provisions exposed Blue Furniture Solution’s intentional misrepresentations totaling $1.7 million in antidumping payments. The US Department of Justice (DOJ) intervened under the FCA.

One year later, on April 20, 2020, the DOJ announced the $.52 million settlement – in which the company pays $4.7 million and executives pay $550,000 for personal liability. Information on this case can be found in the following: United States ex rel. University Loft Company v. Blue Furniture Solutions, LLTC et al., No. 15-CV-588-LY (W.D. Tex.). The related criminal matter appeared under the case name United States v. Zeng, No. 19-CR-64-DCN (D.S.C.).

If you believe an importer is misrepresenting their customs entry to save on AD duties, or if you are a subject of an FCA investigation, contact experienced customs and trade law attorney David Hsu at 832-896-6288 by phone or text; or email attorney.dave@yahoo.com; dh@gjatradelaw.com.

Department of Justice charges Indonesian citizen and companies with exporting goods to Iranian airline Mahan Air.

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According to a Department of Justice (DOJ) filing found here, the DOJ charged an individual Indonesian citizen and several Indonesian based companies for violating US export control of goods to Iran. Specifically, the charged individual and companies worked together to export goods originating from the US to Iranian airline Mahan Air. The complaint says the Indonesian national and companies shipped goods owned by Mahan Air through the following Indonesian companies: PT MS Aero Support (“PTMS”), PT Kandiyasa Energi Utama (“PTKEU”) and PT Antasena Kreasi (“PTAK”) .

The charge against the defendants include (i) unlawful and attempted export to an embargoed country, (ii) conspiracy to launder monetary instruments and (iii) false statements.

If you do not want to be the subject of DOJ investigation, call experienced trade controls attorney David Hsu by phone/text at 832-896-6288 or by email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com, dh@gjatradelaw.com. Initial consultations are free, contact us to figure out how to protect you and your company from the many hazards of exporting US goods overseas.

US DOJ warns of increase in Chinese theft of trade secrets.

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According to CNBC, the Justice Department launched the “China Initiative” in November 2018 in response to Chinese national security threats while the Chinese have accused the United States protecting US companies from competition and attempting to hinder China’s technological development.

The Justice Department issued a warning to companies to bolster their defenses against economic espionage, which has seen an 80% increase in cases since 2012. US Deputy Assistant Attorney General Adam Hickey is quoted as saying more “more cases are being opened that implicate trade secret theft”.

Further more, Adam’s states:

“We expect other nations will want to become self-sufficient in critical technologies. That’s what we’d expect of a responsible government,” he said. “The issue isn’t that China has set out to do that. It’s that part of their industrial policy, part of the way they try to accomplish that, is state-sponsored theft or creating an environment that rewards or turns a blind eye to it.”

The DOJ believes part of the continued espionage efforts are part of the “Made in China 2025” strategic plan to reduce China’s dependence on importations of technology in 10 industries including information technology, robots, aviation, bio-pharmaceuticals and railway transportation.

If you have questions on imports or exports from China, contact experienced trade attorney David Hsu at 832-896-6288 or by email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com, dh@gjatradelaw.com.

DOJ’s ‘China Initiative’ to investigate and prosecute Chinese companies for FCPA violations.

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84th US Attorney General – Jeff Sessions. Source: justice.gov

As released on the justice.gov website on November 1st, then acting Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the “China Initiative” fact sheet on the Department of Justice (DOJ) website.

The purpose of the China Initiative is in response to several Trump administration reports that showed concern regarding China’s trade practices and “various acts, polices and practices of Chinese industrial policy uses in seeking to acquire the intellectual property and technologies of the world and to capture the emerging high-technology industries that will drive future growth”.

The release also explains in detail the National Security Division (NSD): “The National Security Division (NSD) is responsible for countering nation state threats to the country’s critical infrastructure and private sector. In addition to identifying and prosecuting those engaged in trade secret theft, hacking and economic espionage, the initiative will increase efforts to protect our critical infrastructure against external threats including foreign direct investment, supply chain threats and the foreign agents seeking to influence the American public and policymakers without proper registration.”

According to the release, the goals of the China Initiative include:

  1. — Identify priority trade secret theft cases, ensure that investigations are adequately resourced; and work to bring them to fruition in a timely manner and according to the facts and applicable law;
  2. — Develop an enforcement strategy concerning non-traditional collectors (e.g., researchers in labs, universities, and the defense industrial base) that are being coopted into transferring technology contrary to U.S. interests;
  3. — Educate colleges and universities about potential threats to academic freedom and open discourse from influence efforts on campus;
  4. — Apply the Foreign Agents Registration Act to unregistered agents seeking to advance China’s political agenda, bringing enforcement actions when appropriate;
  5. —Equip the nation’s U.S. Attorneys with intelligence and materials they can use to raise awareness of these threats within their Districts and support their outreach efforts;
  6. — Implement the Foreign Investment Risk Review Modernization Act (FIRMA) for DOJ (including by working with Treasury to develop regulations under the statute and prepare for increased workflow);
  7. — Identify opportunities to better address supply chain threats, especially ones impacting the telecommunications sector, prior to the transition to 5G networks;
  8. — Identify Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) cases involving Chinese companies that compete with American businesses;
  9. —Increase efforts to improve Chinese responses to requests under the Mutual Legal Assistance Agreement (MLAA) with the United States; and
  10. — Evaluate whether additional legislative and administrative authorities are required to protect our national assets from foreign economic aggression.

If you have any concerns about whether your Chinese company will have issues or be subject to scrutiny under the new DOJ “China Initiative”, call experienced FCPA attorney David Hsu at 832-896-6288 or email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com.