Customs Fraud Penalties Higher This Year

Larger fines follow lifting of China quotas.

WASHINGTON — U.S. Customs & Border Protection levied $15.8 million in fraud penalties for textile and apparel trade law violations in the first three quarters of fiscal year 2009, a significant increase from the same period a year earlier.

This story first appeared in the August 11, 2009 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

There were 41 actions taken in that time period, Customs said. Fraud penalties are issued when imported goods violate U.S. trade laws, such as falsely claiming apparel or textile imports have duty-free benefits or for describing goods inaccurately to avoid duties.

Customs reported 2,214 intellectual property rights seizures in the apparel and textile category for the first three quarters of the year. Those seizures were worth $14.6 million.

China was the source of “the vast majority” of violations, said Janet Labuda, director of the textile-apparel policy and programs division in Customs’ Office of International Trade.

In 2008, Customs executed commercial fraud penalties 45 times in the first three quarters of the year worth $3.23 million. There were 1,214 intellectual property seizures worth $20.2 million.

Statistical comparisons between 2009 and 2008 are skewed in most enforcement categories because the end of quotas on a vast range of Chinese imports on Jan. 1 changed the structure of enforcement efforts and reporting requirements, Labuda said.

“The whole dynamic of the industry changed,” she said.