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Friday, March 13, 2015

Michigan Resident Pleads Guilty to Conspiracy to Violate Customs and Environmental Laws Regarding Export of E-Waste

Michigan resident Lip Bor Ng, also known as Paul Wu, 52, pleaded guilty before Judge Mark A. Goldsmith to a one-count conspiracy information, which charged him with conspiring with others to knowingly submit false and misleading export information to the United States,  to fraudulently and knowingly export electronic waste in violation of United States law and to export hazardous waste without filing a notification of intent to export with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

According to the charges in the information, Ng submitted fraudulent export information to the Automated Export System, an electronic database maintained by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, on two occasions in 2011.  He falsely declared the commodities as plastic and metal scrap, when, in fact, they contained various types of used electronics and computer components, including cathode-ray tube (CRT) monitors.  CRT monitors can be considered hazardous waste under certain conditions and thus their export is regulated by EPA. 

“U.S. law strictly regulates the exportation of hazardous e-waste because we care about what happens to these materials when they leave our shores,” said John C. Cruden, Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division.  “We will not allow people to profit from compromising the health and safety of people overseas.  Those who do so will be prosecuted.”

Anyone who exports unusable, hazardous CRT monitors must file a notification of intent to export CRT monitors and must also receive permission from the receiving country, in this case, China and Hong Kong, to allow import into that country.  Ng did not file the appropriate notification, or receive permission from China and Hong Kong to export the CRT monitors.

“The more technology we use, the more electronic waste is created that can seriously impact human health and the environment,” said Special Agent in Charge Randall K. Ashe of EPA’s criminal enforcement program in Michigan.  “Many old, worn-out electronics are exported overseas where people risk their health to retrieve the valuable materials left in them.  As a global leader in the manufacture and use of electronics, America has a responsibility to ensure their proper disposal.” 

“When potentially hazardous e-waste is not properly disposed of, human lives are put at risk,” said Marlon Miller, special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations Detroit. “The investigation confirmed that the defendant repeatedly and illegally exported used cathode ray tubes overseas. Homeland Security Investigations stands with our law enforcement partners, committed and ready, to prevent any company from ignoring U.S. laws involving the export of hazardous e-waste."

Ng faces a maximum sentence of five years imprisonment and a $250,000 fine. Sentencing was set for July 14, 2015.

The case is being investigated by the EPA, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, U.S. Department of Commerce, and U.S. Postal Inspection Service.

The case is being prosecuted by the Department of Justice, Environmental Crimes Section, Trial Attorney Jennifer Leigh Blackwell, the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Michigan, Assistant U.S. Attorney Lynn Dodge, as well as EPA Regional Criminal Enforcement Counsel Dave Taliaferro.

Updated May 19, 2016