Baltimore CBP and the CPSC Seize Children’s “Activity Cubes” due to Potential Choking Hazard.

ToyScreengrab

Above photo is a screengrab from the Customs website showing the seized children’s mini activity cubes.

As the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) functions as the USA’s border security agency – CBP enforces hundreds of laws from different agencies. For example, CBP may seize imported automotive parts that violate Department of Transportation regulations or CBP may seize counterfeit and tainted foods products that violate Food and Drug Administration rules.

On January 15th, CBP officers in Baltimore examined a shipment of toys valued at $5,600 from Hong Kong and submitted samples of the toys to the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC). CBP officers initially sent this sample to the CPSC because the toys appeared to contain potential choking hazards.

CPSC subsequently tested the activity cubes and determined the toys violated the small parts requirement of the Federal Hazardous Substances Act [15 USC §1263]. A copy of the FHSA can be found at this link: https://www.cpsc.gov/s3fs-public/fhsa.pdf

Unfortunately for this importer, they won’t be able to get their goods and may face further penalties from Customs. If you have had your imports seized by Customs due to DOT, CPSC, FDA or any of the other alphabet soup of government agency regulations, please call David Hsu at 832.896.6288, or by email at dhsu@givensjohnston.com, free consultations.

CBP fines wholesaler (and not importer) $1 million under the False Claims for failing to act in response to indications of fraudulent resulting in underpayment of customs duties.

Garments

On October 3, 2017, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) announced a settlement of civil fraud claims brought under the False Claims Act against a garment wholesaler in Pennsylvania for ignorning repeated warning signs that its importer business partner was engaged in a scheme to underpay customs duties on imported garments from China sold to the wholesaler.

From the press release (full text here: https://www.justice.gov/usao-sdny/pr/acting-manhattan-us-attorney-announces-settlement-civil-fraud-claims-against-garment)

U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim said: “As this settlement makes evident, companies purchasing imported goods cannot turn a blind eye to fraud committed by their business partners. We will be vigilant in holding accountable all parties who engage in or contribute to fraudulent conduct.”

According to the press release, the wholesaler should have known that discounts of 75% or more for imported garments by the importer were highly suggestive of fraud. In addition to paying $1 million in damages, the wholesaler was also required to implement a written compliance policy to educate employees and identify red flags in fraud in import transactions.

This case is just the latest example of a US company being fined by Customs in this kind of transaction. Any US buyer in this situation should consult with experienced Customs attorneys to vet their transactions and evaluate their own compliance programs.