WASHINGTON — U.S. authorities said Wednesday that a federal jury in San Diego convicted a Los Angeles-area business executive and his corporation, M Trade Inc., for conspiring to evade duties on more than $30 million in Chinese-made jeans, skirts, shorts and other apparel illegally imported into the U.S.
Sunil Jiwat Mirwani, 39, is scheduled to be sentenced Sept. 9 in U.S. District Court in San Diego. Nine other defendants in the case are also facing trials and sentencing, according to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials.
Mirwani and M Trade Inc. were found guilty Friday on all four felony counts contained in the original case indictment, including conspiring to defraud the U.S.; two counts of importing goods by means of false statements, and conspiring to launder money.
The charges carry a maximum sentence of up to 29 years in prison and $1 million in criminal fines.
Federal authorities charged Mirwani and M Trade Inc. in July 2012, along with nine other defendants, including the then-president of the San Diego Broker’s Association, as part of a larger conspiracy in the customs-fraud scheme, which involved imported textiles, cigarettes, snack foods and produce found to be infected with salmonella.
According to the court records, “The defendants operated a ring and devised an elaborate scheme to exploit the in-bond import process, a routine feature of international trade that provides for duty-free importations on goods that do not formally enter into U.S. commerce.”
The case was investigated by ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations, the Internal Revenue Service, the Food and Drug Administration, and prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of California.
According to court documents, Mirwani conspired with the other defendants and hired a group of San Diego-based businessmen and logistics experts to import large commercial quantities of foreign-made goods to the Port of Long Beach and evaded paying customs duties.
As part of the scheme, the group created false paperwork and database entries to classify goods entering the port as “in bond,” and marked for Mexico as the final destination. However, Mirwani and his coconspirators never sent the imported products to Mexico and instead hired truck drivers to haul the merchandise to several warehouses in the Los Angeles area.
Mirwani then sold the merchandise in the U.S. with a duty-free advantage, which put his competitors, including many L.A.-based apparel manufacturers and other foreign manufacturers paying duties on imported apparel to the U.S., at a competitive disadvantage. An ICE official said one of the retail outlets that Mirwani sold to was Ross Stores.
Mirwani was also found to have transmitted millions of dollars via international wire transfers to hide the illicit proceeds and to fund the fraudulent shipments. The wire transfers, including a $10 million amount transferred from M Trade Inc.’s bank accounts to Mirvana International, a Hong-Kong based company Mirwani co-owns with his brother. He also transferred similar amounts of money to that account through intermediary accounts in the U.S. and Mexico and through M Trade Inc.’s account directly to mainland China.
The annual Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic in Pacific Palisades this weekend drew Kate Hudson, Tracee Ellis Ross, Laura Dern and more. See pictures of the star-studded event on WWD.com. (📷: @chelsealaurenla) #wwdeye
In his new book “Hollywood Royale,” Andy Warhol’s Protégé Matthew Rolston celebrates the Eighties revival of Hollywood glamour. Featuring more than 100 portraits taken by Rolston from 1977 to 1993, the book contains photos of icons like Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper, and @drewbarrymore, pictured here in 1991. “Hollywood Royale,” out today, will be accompanied by an exhibition opening at Los Angeles’ Fahey/Klein Gallery on March 1. #wwdeye
"Nowadays when life is not so happy with everything going on in the world, I think people come to me for a little bit of whimsy and color and fun." - Designer Rebecca De Ravenel on her cult-favorite jewelry line. (📸 : @vsteves) #wwd40
“Everyone is talking about how the retail industry is struggling, but I think it’s an incredible time because brands who are doing something different and innovative are setting themselves up for the future,” said @adamgoldston, who founded the luxury athletic brand @apl with his brother @ryangoldsten. The Goldston’s are part of WWD’s 40 under 40: a group of industry notables. See the rest of the list on WWD.com. (📷: @vsteves) #wwd40
@eyeswoon blogger Athena Calderone debuted her first-ever cookbook, “Cook Beautiful,” which is heavily centered on the presentation and visual expression of food. Pictured here are her miso glazed carrots from the book. Get the recipe on WWD.com. (📷: @johnny_miller_) #wwdeye
“It’s passion that helps get anybody to a certain point and it’s what’s propelled me,” said Kith founder @ronniefieg, one of WWD’s 40 under 40: a group of industry notables who are changing the face of retail, fashion and beauty. Fieg, who opened a Manhattan flagship on October 7, began his career at age 13 as a stock boy and salesman for footwear chain David Z. “I think staying true to [my] beliefs, hard work and passion have gotten me to where [Kith] is today.” See the rest of the 40 at WWD.com. (📷: @vsteves) #wwd40
25-year-old @samweaving is about to break out this fall, starring in Netflix’s horror film “The Babysitter,” fittingly out today on Friday the 13th. That’s not the only place you’ll be seeing her, though — Weaving’s got a role Showtime’s “SMILF” and another alongside Frances McDormand and Woody Harrelson in “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.” Though she’s got a full plate at the moment, there’s one role she’s got her eye on: Marilyn Monroe. “I’m a little too young at the moment, but it’s on my bucket list,” the actress told WWD (📷: @dandoperalski) #wwdeye
BFF's Poppy Jamie and Suki Waterhouse celebrated the launch of their bag line Pop x Suki at Nordstrom last night. "The line is really about our friendship, and how we are so different but complement each other," said Waterhouse. 👯 (📷: Katie Jones) #wwdeye
After designing the new @louisvuitton and @bulgariofficial flagships and a @chanelofficial boutique opening in Japan, @petermarinoarchitect has another project on his plate: The Lobster Club. Located in the Seagram Building, it’s the famed architect’s first restaurant project in New York, serving up modern Japanese brasserie-style cuisine. Bronze hues, bespoke material detailing, blush and chartreuse tones and a heavy emphasis on Picasso can be seen throughout. Mark your calendars for Nov. 1 for the much-anticipated opening. (📷: @clint_spaulding) #wwdeye