U.S. Attorney’s Office Reaches Settlement Under The False Claims Act Over Illegal International Trade Practices
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – On October 20, 2020, Days and Towers, LLC. agreed to pay the United States of America the sum of $817,927.58, to settle claims under the False Claims Act, 31 U.S.C. §3729, and unpaid customs duties, announced United States Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico, W. Stephen Muldrow, and Ivan J. Arvelo, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Special Agent in Charge for Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands. The investigation leading to this settlement agreement revealed that from in or about August 2015, to in or about August 2019, Days and Towers submitted approximately 51 import product entries to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) containing false tariff schedules intending to reduce its customs obligations.
The settlement is the result of coordinated efforts between the U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Puerto Rico, and the Global Trade Investigations (GTI) Task Force. The GTI is an integrated Task Force of ICE HSI and CBP personnel working together under the Caribbean Anti-Money Laundering Alliance (CMLA).
“This case underscores the collaborative efforts employed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, in coordination law enforcement partners of HSI and CBP under the CMLA to hold individuals and corporate entities accountable for fraudulent conduct that disrupts our nation’s international trade,” said U.S. Attorney W. Stephen Muldrow. “Our office will continue to investigate illegal trade practices and will aggressively pursue civil and criminal actions against those who attempt to defraud the United States.”
“Violations under the federal False Claims Act can result in significant fines and penalties as this case clearly demonstrates,” said Iván J. Arvelo, Special Agent in Charge for HSI San Juan and the U.S. Virgin Islands. “HSI, along with our partners in the Caribbean Anti-Money Laundering Alliance, will continue working together against local and international money laundering and other serious financial crimes,” added Arvelo.
“CBP’s trade enforcement efforts seek to better identify, detect, and interdict shipments at risk of duty evasion,” indicated Gregory Álvarez, Director of Field Operations for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. “CBP advances these efforts through partnerships with the private sector, advanced technology, and integrated enforcement.”
This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jorge L. Matos from the U.S. Attorney’s Office Civil Division, in conjunction with HSI Special Agents Rafael O. González and Ivan Serpa with the support of CBP.