$28,000 in unreported currency seized by Customs.

IAD $28k SeizureM 053019

Image of the seized currency, source: CBP media release website.

According to a CBP media release last Friday, CBP Officers seized approximately $28,000 in unreported currency from travelers bound for Ghana.

CBP was alerted to a women’s carry one by canine where she reported to CBP officers she was carrying $8,000. A subsequent search found $11,500 in her carry-on. The woman then admitted she was traveling with 4 other passengers and they were carrying currency for her. After searching the other four passengers, CBP officers seized an additional $16,354 for a total of $27,854. According to the CBP media release, $154 was returned to the traveler for humanitarian relief and the five travelers were released.

Besides this seizure, CBP also reported seizure of $15,415 in unreported currency from another Ghana-bound traveler.

What is humanitarian relief?
It’s a sum of money Customs can release to people who have had their currency seized. The amount varies, but it is to cover travel expenses.

Is it $10,000 per person or per family?
There is some confusion about the $10,000 requirement. Many believe it is per person, however, it is per family/group. For example, you can’t give each of your kids $10,000 to avoid the reporting requirement. In this media release, the lady admitted to asking her friends to carry the cash for her – known to Customs as “structuring” to avoid reporting requirements.

Do I have to pay any money if I carry more than $10,000 of currency with me?
No, Customs does not charge you a fee to carry more than $10,000. You can carry any amount you want as long as it is reported.

I have more questions – 
I have more answers! Call David Hsu at 832-896-6288 or by email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com  for immediate answers to your questions.

Dangers of Wood Packaging Materials (WPM) to your supply chain.

cargo container lot

Photo by Chanaka on Pexels.com

Wood packaging materials (WPM) and the presence of invasive species puts your supply chain at great risk. As you are aware, CBP has strict regulations regarding the use of WPM in shipping goods from overseas. The regulations are in place to stop the spread of non-US invasive species that may wreak having on the US domestic ecosystem if the species are introduced into the US.

CBP previously has a published tolerance of five WPM violations prior to issuance of a penalty. However, after November 1, 2017, responsible parties with WPM violations may be issued a penalty after only one violation!

Why stop invasive species?
As the name implies, exotic invasive species are frequently brought into the US through use of wood packing materials. Most frequently found are “wood boring” insects that are able to make holes in the wood to lay larve. The species threaten  agriculture, forestry and other ecosystems where there may exist no natural predators.

How does Customs regulate WPM?
Wood packaging materials imported into the US are required to be treated before importation. The WPM must display a visible mark certifying treatment  on at least 2 sides – the mark must also be approved by the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) in its International Standards of Phytosanitary Measures (ISPM 15) Regulation of wood packaging material in international trade.

Non-exempt wood packaging material (WPM) imported into the United States must have been treated at approved facilities at places of origin to kill harmful timber pests that may be present. The WPM must display a visible, legible, and permanent mark certifying treatment, preferably on at least 2 sides of the article. The mark must be approved under the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) in its International Standards of Phytosanitary Measures (ISPM 15) Regulation of wood packaging material in international trade.

What if there is a WPM violation?
In the event of a WPM, CBP will issue a “Emergency Action Notification” (EAN) to the responsible party (party whose bond was obligated). The EAN will give the responsible party certain time to comply. Typically the solution may be to re-export the goods for fumigation and then re-import. Re-exporting the goods disrupts your supply chain and

What are the other penalties?
If a party fails to comply with the terms of EAN, CBP may issue a liquidated damages penalty.

Do you have any questions about WPM violations or have you been issued an Emergency Action Notification for WPM violations?

Call experienced trade attorney David Hsu at 832.896.6288 or by email at: attorney.dave@yahoo.com

CBP seizes more than $1.5 million in counterfeit hangbags and belts.

LV

Credit: CBP.gov. CBP officers at the Port of Tacoma
seized merchandise that violated the
trademark rights of Chanel, Luis Vuitton,
Calvin Klein, Gucci and Fendi.

According to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) release, the Port of Tacoma seized counterfeit handbags and belts, among other high-end items totaling more than $1.5 million.

Without going into details, the press release indicated the counterfeit items were “of poor quality and violated the trademark rights of Chanel, Luis Vuitton, Calvin Klein, Gucci and Fendi”.

CBP enforces over 500 U.S. trade laws and regulations (such as trademark violations of the handbags) for the over 47 federal agencies with a goal of “protecting the U.S. economy and its consumers from harmful imports and unfair trade practices”.

If you or someone you know had their imports seized due to CBP’s belief the items are counterfeit, contact experienced trade and customs attorney David Hsu, 832.896.6288 or by email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com .

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 attorney.dave@yahoo.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.