NEW CUSTOMS STRIKE FORCE DEPLOYED TO FIGHT FRAUD
Byline: Carol Emert
WASHINGTON — The Customs Service is launching a concerted new effort to combat fraud, such as transshipping and trademark infringement, Commissioner George Weise said in a press briefing Thursday.
As part of its restructuring, Customs has created a Strategic Trade Office headed by new Assistant Commissioner Edward Kwas. The office’s staff will identify problems and develop and supervise strategies to combat illegal commerce.
While Customs already fights fraud with such methods as “jump teams” that investigate foreign apparel factories, the current system targets specific situations as they arise, Weise said. The Strategic Trade Office “will come up with a concerted strategy for dealing with fraud,” he said.
Kwas’s headquarters office will oversee new Strategic Trade Centers in five cities. The Centers will help identify illegal trade and ways to stop it. Since most transshipped goods originates in China, the Los Angeles office will likely lead anti-transshipment policy, he said. The other offices will be in New York, Miami, Dallas-Fort Worth and Chicago.
Weise also said he does not believe Customs’ 1996 budget, which will go into effect Oct. 1, will be cut significantly. He said he has convinced the Office of Management and Budget, the author of the Administration’s budget request, to maintain Customs’ funding at the current level or perhaps at “a modicum” below.
The Republican Congress, which ultimately decides federal funding levels, is likely to favor a strong Customs Service because of its law enforcement role and because illegal imports harm American business, Weise said. — Fairchild News Service