Every few weeks, I get a call from an international flight attendant who wants my help to deal with a huge fine issued by U.S. Customs and Border Protection. The typical scenario is that the nice international flight attendant is traveling overseas, and purchases some counterfeit, luxury brand handbags, wallets, watches or jewelry for friends, family, or co-workers back in the States. Flight crews are rarely stopped and searched by U.S. Customs upon return to the United States, so the risk is low. Unfortunately, some do get stopped, and the Customs officer seizes the counterfeit items. That is just the beginning of the nightmare.
Pinnacle Aircraft Parts, Inc., based in Miami, Florida, just paid $225,000 to the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Conrtrol ("OFAC") regarding OFAC's investigation of a jet engine that may been shipped to Iran. This case is unique in that OFAC did not assess the fine because the jet engine was shipped to Iran, but because Pinnacle Aircraft Parts failed to properly comply with it subpoena to provide all records about that shipment.
On November 30, 2010, from 12 to 1:30 p.m., the National Customs Brokers and Forwarders Association of America (NCBFAA) is hosting a webinar on the topic of "EPA Import Compliance - What To Do When Things Go Wrong". Instructor will be Peter Quinter, Partner in Charge, Customs and International Trade Law Department, Becker & Poliakoff law firm.
WARNING! U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has issued a record number of CBP Form 28s (Request for Information) and CBP Form 29s (Notice of Action) in 2010, and there is no end in sight. Import Specialists of CBP at ports of entry all over the United States are sending out these forms to importers demanding responses. If the responses are not satisfactory, the CBP officer will demand payment of customs duties. What an importer states in its response to CBP may result in CBP taking no further action, assessing customs duties, issuing a monetary penalty notice, or even referring the case for criminal prosecution.