The False Claims Act: Get Paid to Expose Fraud & Unfair Competition, Protect Yourself from an Investigation

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!! UPCOMING False Claims Act Webinar !!

Learn how to expose fraud, blow the whistle on unfair competition, and avoid being the target of an FCA investigation

May 9, 2024 | 12:00 PM ET

Speakers: Jennifer Diaz, President &Dana Watts, Of Counsel, Diaz Trade Law and Jonathan Tycko, Partner, Tycko & Zavareei LLP

Register HERE.

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The False Claims Act (FCA) is a powerful federal anti-fraud law that incentivizes average people to expose fraud. The law attempts to reward whistleblowers and disincentivize committing fraud and can be used to expose customs fraud.

What is the False Claims Act?

The FCA, 31 U.S.C. §§ 3729 – 3733, is a federal statute enacted in 1863 in response to defense contractor fraud during the Civil War.

The FCA provides that any person who knowingly submits, or causes to submit, false claims to the government is liable for three times the government’s damages plus a penalty. Conspiring to commit these acts also is a violation of the FCA.

The FCA allows the U.S. government to investigate perpetrators of fraud directly, but it also provides an avenue for private citizens to become whistleblowers and expose fraud.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) obtained more than $2.68 billion in settlements and judgments involving fraud and false claims in the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2023.

The FCA and International Trade

The FCA is commonly used to prosecute financial crime such as misuse of federal grants and healthcare related claims. However, in recent years the FCA has been increasingly used to allege customs duty […]

U.S. Customs – Your Personal Policeman at the Border

Many companies mistakenly believe that registering a trademark or copyright with the U.S. Government provides sufficient protection and remedies, and, therefore, do not take the extra step to record trademarks or copyrights with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (U.S. Customs).

The processes achieve two completely different goals.

Registering a trademark with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) or copyright with the U.S. Copyright Office gives public notice of one’s ownership of the trademark or copyright. On the other hand, the purpose of recording a trademark or copyright with U.S. Customs is to partner with the agency in preventing the unauthorized importation of merchandise that bears a recorded trademark or copyright. U.S. Customs prevents counterfeit and otherwise infringing products from entering or exiting the United States for registered trademark or copyright holders who have recorded their trademarks or copyrights with Customs.

U.S. Customs officials may detect infringing merchandise at the time of entry into the United States. When you record trademarks or copyrights with Customs, the information is entered into an electronic database accessible to U.S. Customs officers around the world. U.S. Customs uses this information to target suspect shipments for the purpose of physically examining merchandise which ultimately prevents the importation or exportation of infringing goods.

Advantages to Recording a Trademark or Copyright with Customs

The first and most obvious advantage to recording a trademark or copyright with U.S. Customs is that the agency will monitor and seize infringing merchandise at the ports of entry. Because U.S. […]

UFLPA DHS Guidance – What Importers Need to Know

On June 17,  2022, DHS published its long-awaited strategy guidance document which shed light on how UFLPA will be implemented, and what evidence may be provided to rebut the presumption that the goods were made with forced labor. This article provides an overview of the type of evidence importers should have readily available when importing goods into the United States. For general guidance on preventing the importation of goods produced with forced labor and how importers should audit their supply chain to ensure non-use of forced labor, please refer to our Bloomberg Law article, “U.S. Customs Targets Use of Forced Labor”.

UFLPA

The Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (UFLPA) establishes a rebuttable presumption that goods mined, produced, or manufactured wholly or in part in the Xinjiang Province of China or by an entity on the UFLPA Entity List are prohibited from importation into the United States under 19 U.S.C. § 1307. However, if an Importer of Record can demonstrate by clear and convincing evidence that the goods in question were not produced wholly or in part by forced labor, fully respond to all CBP requests for information about goods under CBP review and demonstrate that it has fully complied with the guidance outlined in this strategy, the Commissioner of CBP may grant an exception to the presumption.

Clear and convincing evidence is a higher standard of proof than a preponderance of the evidence, and generally means that a claim or contention […]

Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (UFLPA): What You Need to Know

Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (UFLPA) and What You Need to Know?

On June 16, 2022, CBP held a webinar on the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (UFLPA). The UFLPA goes into effect June 21, 2022 so it is critical that importers are proactive about forced labor compliance in preparation for this implementation. During the webinar CBP discussed their recently published operational guidance for importers. This blog article provides an overview of CBP’s current enforcement environment and how UFLPA will change CBP’s enforcement procedures for imports generally, and specifically from the Xinjiang region. For general guidance on preventing the importation of goods produced with forced labor and how importers should audit their supply chain to ensure non-use of forced labor, please refer to our Bloomberg Law article, “U.S. Customs Targets Use of Forced Labor”.

Background

Under Section 307 of the Tariff Act of 1930 (19 U.S.C. 1307), CBP derives the authority for preventing the entry into the U.S. market of products made with forced labor by investigating and acting upon allegations of forced labor in supply chains. CBP issues Withhold Release Orders (WROs) and findings to prevent merchandise produced in whole or in part in a foreign country using forced labor from being imported into the United States. CBP defines Forced labor as all work or service which is extracted from any person under the menace of any penalty for its nonperformance and for which the worker does not […]

Export Controls & Cybersecurity

Introduction

In order to protect U.S. national security interests and promote foreign policy objectives, various U.S. agencies collectively administer and enforce U.S. export control laws and participate in various multilateral export control regimes to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and prevent destabilizing accumulations of conventional weapons and related materials. To that end, the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) governs the export and reexport of commodities, software, and technology falling under the jurisdiction of Export Administration Regulations. BIS promotes continued U.S. strategic technology leadership and is responsible for enforcing the regulation of export, reexport, and transfer of items with commercial uses that can also have a dual use, and be used in conventional arms, weapons of mass destruction, terrorist activities, or human rights abuses, and less sensitive military items, which bleeds into cybersecurity as well.

Cybersecurity has recently become an essential aspect in export controls and on October 21, 2021, BIS published its Interim Final Rule (this rule is effective January 19, 2022), which summary states:

SUMMARY: This interim final rule outlines the progress the United States has made in export controls pertaining to cybersecurity items, revised Commerce Control List (CCL) implementation, and requests from the public information about the impact of these revised controls on U.S. industry and the cybersecurity community. Specifically, this rule establishes a new control on these items for National Security (NS) and Anti-terrorism (AT) reasons, along with a new License Exception Authorized Cybersecurity Exports (ACE) that authorizes exports of […]

By |2022-02-15T13:12:15-05:00February 15, 2022|ACE, EAR, Enforcement, Export, International Trade, U.S. Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS)|Comments Off on Export Controls & Cybersecurity

Importing into Puerto Rico? Don’t Forget about Paying Use Tax

Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory, although uniquely situated as a part of the customs territory of the United States it simultaneously operates its own internal tax system for importations into Puerto Rico. This means importations of goods into Puerto Rico must meet all import requirements that any importation into the United States must meet. For example, importations are subject to duties, taxes, and fees imposed by CBP, and importations must meet the health, safety, and sanitary and phytosanitary requirements of a wide range of federal agencies such as the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration, etc.

Meanwhile, importations into Puerto Rico are additionally subject to the territory’s own entry tax administered by the Departmento de Hacienda (“Hacienda”), a Puerto Rican governmental agency that serves the function of a territory treasury department. Puerto Rico’s unique entry tax is a component of a two-pronged tax system for goods, known as the Impuesto sobre Ventas y Uso (“IVU”) (in English, “Sales and Use Tax”). As the name suggests, the IVU is comprised of (1) sales tax, and (2) a use tax.

The sales tax functions similar to sales taxes elsewhere in the United States. In Puerto Rico, the Hacienda requires that sales taxes on goods and services be collected by goods and services providers and paid to the Hacienda on a monthly basis. On the other hand, the use tax is the amount that a party must pay when introducing an item to […]

By |2022-01-28T15:32:48-05:00February 1, 2022|AD/CVD, Best Practices, Enforcement, Import, International Trade, Pre-compliance, Reasonable Care, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)|Comments Off on Importing into Puerto Rico? Don’t Forget about Paying Use Tax

Customs and Trade Law Weekly Snapshot

Here is a recap of the latest customs and international trade law news:

CBP 

  • In Fiscal Year 2021, CBP at the LA/Long Beach Seaport seized More Than $760 Million in Counterfeit and Prohibited Products, a 652% increase over the previous year.
  • CBP issues guidance regarding the extension of product exclusions from additional Section 301 China duties on certain medical-care products to address COVID-19.
  • With changes to the HTSUS classification systems possibly coming as early as January 1, 2021, U.S. importers should review their classifications and ensure compliance with U.S. regulations

BIS

China

9801.00.10: Updated Requirements for Returned Goods

Background on HTSUS Subheading 9801.00.10

Ever hear of U.S. goods returned and wondered what it really meant? The Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (“HTSUS”) subheading 9801.00.10 is used for re-importing U.S. made products back into the United States, duty-free. Previously, this classification only covered merchandise originally made in the United States and now reentering the country (hence “US Goods Returned”). In order to qualify for classification under subheading 9801.00.10 and duty-free treatment, these products entering the United States had to be unimproved in condition or value. In other words, the products had to not be subject to further processing abroad. For example, subheading 9801.00.10 may be used when goods are being re-imported as returned product to the seller or for repair. Under subheading 9801.00.10, the importer has the burden to prove their claim for duty-free treatment.

CBP Issues Updated Guidance

On August 20, 2021, subheading 9801.00.10 was expanded to include products which originated from foreign countries. HTSUS subheading 9801.00.10 now states: “Products of the United States when returned after having been exported, or any other products when returned within 3 years after having been exported, without having been advanced in value or improved in condition by any process of manufacture or other means while abroad.” In other words, non-U.S. origin products that are returned to the United States will ALSO qualify for duty-free treatment under subheading 9801.00.10. However, the timing requirements for U.S.-origin and foreign-origin products are different. U.S.-origin products currently have no time limit to file […]

By |2021-11-09T12:23:27-05:00November 23, 2021|ACE, Best Practices, Customs Broker, Customs Expert, Enforcement, Import, International Trade, Pre-compliance, Reasonable Care, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)|Comments Off on 9801.00.10: Updated Requirements for Returned Goods

Customs Classification – A Key Component of an Import Compliance Manual

We are often asked by importers to assist in classifying their products under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the U.S. (“HTS” or “HTSUS”). While seeking assistance from expert counsel is a best practice, under the CBP Modernization Act, an importer of record (“IOR”) is the sole party responsible for determining the correct classification of imported goods (and thereby paying the correct amount of customs duties). An IOR must use reasonable care in classifying its product at the time of entry. Should an importer misclassify their products and not pay the appropriate duties to CBP at the time of importation; the importer is exposing itself to potential CBP penalties under 19 U.S.C. 1592.  The process of classifying goods can be a tedious process and may require time and research to arrive at the correct HTSUS number for any one product.

This blog expands our prior blog, Crash Course in the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States, and provides additional detail on the classification process and tips for importers to use when deciding on a classification its customs broker will declare to CBP.  Importers are encouraged to attend the webinar How to Build and Maintain an Effective Import Compliance Plan on October 6, 2021 (and on-demand) for best practices on how to build and maintain an import compliance plan by addressing common risks associated with the import process – including product classification.

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By |2021-10-01T09:48:07-04:00October 4, 2021|Best Practices, Enforcement, HTS, Import, Pre-compliance, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)|Comments Off on Customs Classification – A Key Component of an Import Compliance Manual
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