California Company Settles Allegations It Underpaid Import Fees
Will Pay $1.5 Million to Settle Allegations it Knowingly Undervalued Imports from China and the Republic of Madagascar
A California-based corporation that imports sportswear for sale to various wholesale customers will pay $1.5 million to resolve allegations under the False Claims Act that it underpaid the import duties on shipments from 2010 to 2014, announced U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes. Winds Enterprises, Inc. is the California division of Winds Enterprises, Ltd., a Hong Kong corporation whose business is the manufacturing of sportswear, which is imported into the United States and sold to various clothing lines.
“The undervaluing of imports not only defrauds our customs program, it skews the playing field for competitors,” said U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes. “These types of qui tam lawsuits are an important tool for keeping the marketplace honest.”
The case was originally filed under seal as a qui tam, or whistleblower, case in 2013, with a former employee alleging that the company was undervaluing shipments to the United States and therefore paying lower duties on the shipments than authorized pursuant to applicable laws and regulations. As is permitted by the qui tam statutes, the former employee or relator, will receive a portion of the settlement funds. In this case the relator will receive 20 percent of the settlement or $300,000.
“Trade enforcement is a priority for U.S. Customs and Border Protection due to the significant role that it plays in the economic security of the United States,” said Richard DiNucci, Executive Director, Cargo and Conveyance Security, Office of Field Operations. “CBP is responsible for facilitating the legitimate flow of trade, while enforcing the laws against the evasion of duties that protect against unfair trade practices.”
Winds Enterprises, Inc. admits no wrongdoing in the case.
The matter was investigated by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).
The settlement was negotiated by Assistant United States Attorneys Kayla Stahman and David East.
Press contact for the U.S. Attorney’s Office is Public Affairs Officer Emily Langlie at (206) 553-4110 or Emily.Langlie@usdoj.gov.