News and Press Releases

Seller of Gray Market Rolex Watches Agrees to Forfeit over $1.9 Million in Merchandise and Pay a $325,000 Penalty

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 10, 2011

Loretta E. Lynch, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, today announced that Boneta, Inc., a privately owned business located in New York City’s Diamond District, has agreed to forfeit over $1.9 million worth of illegally imported Rolex watches and watch parts and to pay a $325,000 penalty, pursuant to a settlement agreement with the United States. In addition, Boneta has consented to increased penalties for any future illegal importations of trademarked merchandise.

Boneta came to the attention of law enforcement after its owner, Erik Boneta, attempted to import shipments of “gray market” Rolex watches from Hong Kong through John F. Kennedy International Airport. This merchandise was authorized by Rolex for sale only outside the United States, typically at prices lower than those charged for comparable items authorized for sale within the United States. Following the seizure of the shipments, Homeland Security Investigation (HSI) agents conducted an investigation into Boneta’s import activity. The investigation led to a search of Boneta’s offices, where HSI agents seized in excess of 200 Rolex watches as well as an assortment of hundreds of Rolex watch parts.

“We will enforce the laws that prohibit the illegal importation of trademarked merchandise at the border and where the merchandise is sold,” stated United States Attorney Lynch. Ms. Lynch expressed her grateful appreciation to U.S. Customs and Border Protection for its assistance in the investigation and the resolution of this matter.

“HSI’s effort to enforce laws protecting copyright and trademark holders is a long term commitment,” said James T. Hayes, Jr., Special Agent-in-Charge of HSI in New York. “Our goal is to put an end to the ability of companies like Boneta, Inc., to perpetrate such illegal conduct.”

The government’s case was handled by Assistant United States Attorney Laura D. Mantell.



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