Health Products Company and Owners Sentenced for Smuggling Seal Oil and Dietary Supplements into the United States from China
LOS ANGELES – A couple from Walnut, California and two of their import and distribution companies have been sentenced after previously pleading guilty to a wide variety of criminal activity, including smuggling Harp Seal oil into the United States from China, falsely classifying goods to avoid import duties, and importing mislabeled food into the United States from China.
Lynn Leung, 61, the former president and co-owner of the UBF Group, Inc., doing business as the Nu-Health Products Company, was ordered yesterday to serve five years of probation, which will include one year of home detention. Leung was also ordered by United States District Judge Dale S. Fischer to pay a $20,000 fine. Additionally, Leung was banned from working as a manager, officer or director of any business entity – including her own family companies – for a period of five years.
Daniel Fu, 65, Leung’s husband and the former vice-president of UBF Group, Inc., was also sentenced Monday to five years of probation, ordered to spend six months under home detention and fined $20,000. During the period of probation, Fu is also banned from working as a manager, officer or director of any business entity – including his own family companies.
Leung and Fu jointly owned and operated a number of local dietary supplement import and distribution companies doing business as the Nu-Health Products Company, including UBF Group, Inc. and ASN Group, Inc.
Judge Fischer also sentenced UBF Group, Inc. yesterday, ordering it to pay a total monetary penalty of $1.29 million. The company was ordered to pay a $230,000 fine, to forfeit $941,000 in proceeds derived from criminal activity, and to pay $119,000 in restitution to the United States Customs and Border Protection agency for import duties it avoided as a result of the criminal scheme.
ASN Group, Inc., also on Monday was sentenced to pay a $30,000 criminal fine and ordered to implement a compliance program designed to insure compliance with all relevant United States Food and Drug Act requirements and regulations.
Leung and Fu previously pleaded guilty to introducing misbranded food into interstate commerce with the intent to defraud or mislead. The “food” at issue consisted of millions of capsules of honey bee royal jelly – dietary supplements that were falsely and misleadingly described in import records as “aloe vera.” The mislabeled dietary supplements were purchased from UBF Group, Inc.’s supplier in China, the Sirio Pharma Company, Ltd. Both Leung and Fu admitted that the royal jelly was falsely described in import and export documents because Sirio Pharma lacked regulatory certificates required for export of the honey bee products from China.
“Laws protecting wildlife are also designed to protect consumers, who deserve to know that products are legally obtained and do not pose a threat to their health,” said United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker. “Prosecutions like this one demonstrate the commitment of my office and our partner regulatory agencies to stop crimes motivated by greed that threaten our environment."
UBF Group, Inc. previously pleaded guilty to two felonies, specifically smuggling 4 million capsules of Harp Seal oil into the United States (the shipments were falsely labeled as fish oil) and smuggling falsely classified Chinese goods into the United State to avoid payment of import duties. Harp Seals are protected by the federal Marine Mammal Protection Act, which forbids importation of any seals or seal parts, except for scientific or educational purposes. By falsely classifying the value of its imported products on customs documents, UBF Group, Inc. avoided payment of at least $119,000 in import duties legally owed on its Chinese merchandise.
ASN Group, Inc. previously pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor offense of introducing mislabeled food into interstate and foreign commerce.
The Chinese supplier, Sirio Pharma Company, previously pleaded guilty in this case to wildlife trafficking and was ordered to pay $500,000 in monetary fines and penalties. Sirio Pharma admitted that employees of the Nu-Health Products Company asked Sirro Pharma to falsely label certain products, including Harp Seal oil and honey bee products, and invoice its shipments of various dietary products in a manner that helped the Nu-Health Products Company to disguise the true cost of the products and their true description.
“This case is victory for protected species everywhere,” said Eileen Sobeck, assistant administrator for NOAA Fisheries. “Taking enforcement actions against those who violate the laws protecting marine species will always be a top enforcement priority.”
This case was investigated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration – Office of Law Enforcement, the United States Food and Drug Administration – Office of Criminal Investigations, and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigation.