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FREIGHT FORWARDERS ARRESTED IN MIAMI FOR SHIPPING SONY PLAYSTATIONS

Posted in Export, Freight Forwarding

Peter A. Quinter, Florida Customs LawyerTo the dismay of the local international trade community, three international freight forwarding companies and their owners are being criminally prosecuted for illegally exporting merchandise to a company in Paraguay. The company in Paraguay had been designated a "Specially Designated Global Terrorist" by the United States Government.  Exporters and forwarding companies sending any cargo to such a company, even Sony PlayStation video games, would be in violation of the law. 

In an Indictment dated October 1, 2009, Case No. 09-20852-CR-GOLD, the United States Attorneys’ Office in Miami charged three Miami freight forwarding companies and their owners with violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA),50 U.S.C. 1701 et seq., 18 U.S.C. 554 (fraudulently exporting from the United States), 18 U.S.C. 371 (conspiracy), and 13 U.S.C. 305 (knowingly submitting false Shippers Export Declarations or information through the Automated Export System (AES).

In summary, the Government has alleged that the Paraguay company paid an Ohio distributor of Sony PlayStations to ship those items to the freight forwarding companies in Miami. Once in Miami, according to the Indictment, the freight forwarders and their owners allegedly created documents falsely identifying the address of the company in Paraguay because they knew they could not ship the Sony PlayStations to the real address.  The real address of the company in Paraguay, according to the Indictment, had been designated by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist.  The designated terrorist was Galeria Page, an office mall in Ciudad del Este, Paraguay.

The case was investigated by the Miami office of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) which issued a Press Release.  According to the Penalty Sheet filed with the Indictment, the maximum penalty for the individual owners of the freight forwarding companies who were arrested for the alleged violations is 20 years imprisonment. 

To obtain a copy of the Indictment which was just unsealed on February 26, 2010, please contact me at pquinter@becker-poliakoff.com or (954) 270-1864.