18 04, 2024

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

By |2024-04-18T17:01:11-04:00April 18, 2024|Enforcement, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)|Comments Off on 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 […]

12 04, 2024

Customs and Trade News Weekly Snapshot

By |2024-04-12T15:11:20-04:00April 12, 2024|Snapshot|Comments Off on Customs and Trade News Weekly Snapshot

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

Customs and Border Protection (CBP)  

12 04, 2024

The Arena of EAPA: Transshipping, Pencils, and Evading Duties

By |2024-04-12T15:01:41-04:00April 12, 2024|AD/CVD, Import, U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC)|Comments Off on The Arena of EAPA: Transshipping, Pencils, and Evading Duties

Customs and Border Protection (CBP) investigates allegations of dumping or unfair foreign subsidies, but they also have the authority to investigate potential violations of any imposed Anti-Dumping or Countervailing Duties (AD/CVD) under the Enforce and Protect Act (EAPA) of 2015.

Customs describes EAPA as a “multi-party, transparent, administrative proceeding where parties can both participate in and learn the outcome of the investigation. It also maintains due process for parties to the investigation by providing an option for them to request administrative and judicial reviews of CBP’s determination as to evasion.” Self-assertions of transparency and due process aside, many have found EAPA cases to be highly secretive and not always fair.

Frequently, an EAPA case involves an allegation that Chinese goods are allegedly transshipped through another country (or only subject to minor processing) to avoid paying AD/CVD duties. Since AD/CVD duties are applicable based upon the commodities country of origin, nefarious companies can ship goods from China to for example, Vietnam, India, Mexico, Taiwan, Malaysia, or some other country, and claim that these goods do not originate from China after all. Importers, in good faith, will declare that their imports are not subject to AD/CVD duties because they are not aware of the true origin of the goods. Such importers might not be liable for penalties if their belief was in good faith and based on facts, but such importers would still be subject to massive duties. Thus, contrary to popular option, good/honest importers may also find themselves the recipient of […]

5 04, 2024

Customs and Trade News Weekly Snapshot

By |2024-04-05T11:25:38-04:00April 5, 2024|Snapshot|Comments Off on Customs and Trade News Weekly Snapshot

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

Customs and Border Protection (CBP)  

  • Operational update for Port of Baltimore: CBP said ocean carriers originally planning to unload at the Port of Baltimore must proceed to another U.S. port in the aftermath of the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse on March 26. 
  • CBP published a federal register notice that makes changes to the Global Entry and SENTRI programs. Highlights: 
    • The Global Entry fee will be increased from $100 to $120 
    • The total SENTRI fee will be decreased from $122.25 to $120. 
    • Fee exemption for certain minors 
  • At the Trade Facilitation and Cargo Security Summit, CBP provided attendees with a handout which asks importers and customs brokers: “Do You know Your Supply Chain?” 
  • CBP published an updated version of the ACE Entry Summary Business Rules and Process Document, Version 12.0. The publication includes updates on: 
    • Entry summary 
    • Blanket declarations 
2 04, 2024

FDA Unveils Searchable Tobacco Products Database to Bolster Compliance and Transparency

By |2024-04-05T11:28:15-04:00April 2, 2024|Tobacco, U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)|Comments Off on FDA Unveils Searchable Tobacco Products Database to Bolster Compliance and Transparency

Last week, FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products (CTP) announced the release of its Searchable Tobacco Products Database. This tool provides easy access to a list of legally marketable tobacco products within the United States, integrating a user-friendly design with sophisticated search functionalities, making navigation and information retrieval very easy. The FDA has committed to monthly updates, ensuring the availability of current and accurate product information.

FDA categorizes listed tobacco products into three groups:

  1. New Tobacco Products: products that have successfully navigated through one of the FDA’s pathways for new tobacco product market authorization.
  2. Pre-existing Tobacco Products: Identified through a voluntary determination program, these products were commercially available as of February 15, 2007.
  3. Provisional Tobacco Products: that have been withdrawn from the FDA review process.

The database fosters enhanced transparency that aligns with the needs particularly of retailers, to empower stakeholders to better meet regulatory requirements. It encompasses nearly 17,000 tobacco products, including more than 12,000 Pre-existing Tobacco Products category. The database provides detailed information for each listed product, including the product name, manufacturer, categorization, the statutory or regulatory basis for its marketability in the U.S., and the specific date of the FDA’s decision. It also provides access to an array of regulatory and scientific documents associated with the tobacco product application, including Order Letters, Decision Summaries, Environmental Assessments (EAs), and their related documentation.

FDA has also introduced a supplementary resource, the Searchable Tobacco Products Database – Additional Information, designed to demystify the terminology and contextual background of the database […]

29 03, 2024

Customs and Trade News Weekly Snapshot

By |2024-03-29T15:49:01-04:00March 29, 2024|Snapshot|Comments Off on Customs and Trade News Weekly Snapshot

Foremost, our hearts are with those affected by the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse in Baltimore. This sobering event serves as a poignant reminder of the fragility inherent in our robust trade and transportation systems. In these trying times, we are deeply grateful for the unsung heroes who tirelessly work behind the scenes, ensuring the continuity of global trade. 

 Customs and Border Protection (CBP)  

  • CBP released the February 2024 monthly operational update. Highlights: 
    • Processed more than 2.6 million entry summaries 
    • Identified $6.5 billion to be collected  
    • Stopped 540 shipments for further examination based on suspected use of forced labor 
    • Issued 6,622 emergency action notifications for restricted and prohibited plant and animal products entering the United States  
  • CBP announced a partnership with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to expand the focus of the Global Business Identifier (GBI) Test. 
    • The expanded test will explore how identifiers could be leveraged to enable coordination and harmonized decision making across the U.S. government. 
  • Officers in Cincinnati recently seized […]
29 03, 2024

UFLPA Enforcement Update

By |2024-04-05T11:29:51-04:00March 29, 2024|Forced Labor, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)|Comments Off on UFLPA Enforcement Update

At CBP’s 2024 Trade Facilitation and Cargo Security Summit (“the Summit”) this week, panelists shared some pending developments in Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (“UFLPA”) enforcement. The UFLPA establishes a rebuttable presumption that the importation of any goods mined, produced, or manufactured, wholly or in part, in the Xinjiang region of China, or produced by an entity on the UFLPA Entity List, is prohibited under U.S. forced labor law.

Panelists indicated that “more than 10” new entities would be placed on the Entity List in the coming months. The government has received criticism regarding the relatively low number of entities on the Entity List since the UFLPA was enacted in June 2022. While “more than 10” is still a relatively low number, given that the current Entity List is comprised of just 30 entities, ten-plus new entities would represent a significant increase.

Panelists also announced that new high-priority sectors for UFLPA enforcement would be identified in the near future. Currently, only cotton, tomatoes, and polysilicon are officially listed as high-priority sectors. Panelists re-affirmed that the Forced Labor Enforcement Task Force (“FLETF”) – an interagency team led by the Department of Homeland Security – uses reports from Non-Government Organizations (NGOs), reporting from journalists, letters from Congress, and other sources to identify additional potential high-priority sectors. Panelists also appeared to agree that polyvinyl chloride (“PVC”), fish, and aluminum – sectors that have recently been tied to Uyghur forced labor in NGO and media reporting – were likely candidates for designation as high-priority […]

22 03, 2024

Customs and Trade News Weekly Snapshot

By |2024-03-22T11:24:52-04:00March 22, 2024|Snapshot|Comments Off on Customs and Trade News Weekly Snapshot

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

Customs and Border Protection (CBP)  

  • CBP issued cybersecurity incident procedures guidelines for brokers. 
    • The guidance explains the process and roles and responsibilities of CBP and the brokerage community on how to facilitate the importation, entry, and entry summary process, in the event of a cybersecurity incident affecting a broker.  
  • CBP easter egg advisory: CBP reminds the traveling public that cascarones (confetti-filled eggshells) are restricted to quantities of 12 per passenger. 
    • Cascarones are a restricted commodity by CBP in order to prevent further spread of Newcastle Disease and Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) through contaminated eggshells.  
  • CBP seized 280 toddler travel beds and baby playpens for Consumer Product Safety Act violations.  The China-based shipment was appraised at a domestic value of about $11,000.  
  • CBP extended import restrictions on certain archaeological and ecclesiastical ethnological material from Honduras.  
  • CBP released a final rule shifting the […]
15 03, 2024

Ford Motor Company Settles Claims Relating to Under-Valued Vehicles for $365M

By |2024-03-15T14:50:57-04:00March 15, 2024|Import, Penalty|Comments Off on Ford Motor Company Settles Claims Relating to Under-Valued Vehicles for $365M

Ford Motor Company has agreed to pay $365 million for allegedly misclassifying and understating the value of hundreds of thousands of vehicles.

According to the Department of Justice, Ford engaged in a scheme to avoid higher duties by misclassifying cargo vans. Between 2009 and 2013, the company imported Transit Connect cargo vans into the United States but presented them to Customs and Border Protection (CBP) with temporary seats and other features to make them appear to be passenger vehicles. The seats were never intended to carry passengers and Ford removed them as part of post-importation processing. The inclusion of the seats allowed Ford to avoid paying the 25% duty rate for cargo vehicles and instead they paid a duty rate of just 2.5%.

This case dates back to February 2012 when the Port of Baltimore advised Ford it was initiating an investigation into Ford’s classification practices. (Typically, prior to investigating an entity, CBP sends a request for information first. For more information on how this process typically begins read “Now, More than Ever, Be Wary of and Responsive to a CBP Form 28!”).

In 2013 Customs determined that the vans were improperly classified and liquidated the vehicles at the 25% duty rate. Ford protested, and Customs denied the protest. Ford then filed a complaint with the U.S. Court of International Trade (CIT). The CIT agreed with Ford, finding that Ford engaged in legitimate tariff engineering. The government appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit where […]

15 03, 2024

MoCRA Facility and Product Registration Portal Now Open! 

By |2024-03-15T14:40:32-04:00March 15, 2024|Cosmetics, U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)|Comments Off on MoCRA Facility and Product Registration Portal Now Open! 

Essential deadlines under the Modernization of Cosmetics Regulation Act of 2022 (MoCRA) come into effect July 1, 2024. MoCRA brings significant changes to the cosmetic industry and will impact your company if you manufacture, distribute, or pack a cosmetic product in the United States.

What is Required Under MoCRA

MoCRA replaces the previous Cosmetic Act, which had not been updated since 1938.

New MoCRA requirements include:

  • FDA registration for cosmetics facilities
  • Product listings for each cosmetic product
  • Adverse event reporting
  • Safety substantiation
  • Compliance with Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs)
  • Fragrance allergen labeling

MoCRA also gives the FDA new records access and mandatory recall authority. In issuing MoCRA regulations, FDA’s aim is to help ensure the overall safety of cosmetic products, and significantly expand the Agency’s ability to trace and track non-compliant products and facilities.

Registration and Listing Made Easy Through Our Online Portal

Not sure what is required to register a facility or list a cosmetic product? Our online portal will take you through the process step-by-step to ensure you are in compliance.

On our website you can:

  • Register a facility
  • Enlist Diaz Trade Consulting as your U.S. Agent
  • List a cosmetics product
  • Pay registration fees
  • Complete annual renewal
  • Request a UNII code

Get started here. Have questions? Reach out to us at info@diaztradeconsulting.com or call us at 305-400-8458.

Read more about MoCRA:

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