In another example of the government’s continuing use of the criminal justice system to enforce international trade laws, three Florida companies and their management were recently convicted and sentenced for importing smuggled toys from China containing lead and containing counterfeit trademarks.
The annual International Boston Seafood Show is today and tomorrow at the Boston Convention Center. The Show attracts 19,000 visitors, and is the largest seafood show in North America. See www.bostonseafood.com. I am again lecturing on the Food Safety and Compliance Track with emphasis on the implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2011: What every food importer and customs broker needs to know – now.
Our beloved Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has the responsibility of screening passengers to “ensure that certain items and persons prohibited from flying don’t board commercial airliners.” This is accomplished through 43,00 Transportation Security Officers (TSOs) located at 450 airports around the United States. For me, while I am waiting in line to be screened, there seems always to be one energetic TSO screaming at my fellow passengers to take our shoes off, remove most liquids, take our belts off, take out our laptops, etc.. it is hard to remember that the official Mission of the TSA is to “protect the Nation’s transportation systems to ensure freedom of movement for people and commerce.” I do have one funny story to tell you about the TSA and a certain passenger.
The Office of Inspector General (OIG) of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a report criticizing U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). In a June 2011 report entitled “Efficacy of Customs and Border Protection’s Bonding Process,” DHS concluded that up to $12 billion in single transaction bonds for importers may fail to be collected. Considering that approximately $2 trillion of goods are imported into the United States each year, and that CBP collects about $32 billion in duties, taxes, and fees, $12 billion is a heck of a lot of money to lose.
On Thursday, March 10, 2011, from 12 noon to 1:30 p.m. EST, Marc Rossi, Chief, Air Cargo Screening, TSA Headquarters, and Peter Quinter, Chair, Customs and International Trade Department, will be the speakers at a webinar hosted by the National Customs Brokers and Forwarders Association of America. Shippers, indirect air carriers (IACs) or freight forwarders, and international airlines will benefit from learning about the newest policies and requirements by TSA.
Sometimes it is beneficial for an exporter to voluntarily self-disclose its export violations to the U.S. Government. Maybe an exportation of an item occurred without first obtaining the necessary license, or maybe the items was shipped to a company overseas other than allowed in a license. Both situations are violations of the Export Administration Regulations, and both violations could result in $250,000 penalites against the exporter. By voluntarily sefl-disclosing the violation, the exporter would reduce, and might even eliminate, such a penalty.
Pinnacle Aircraft Parts, Inc., based in Miami, Florida, just paid $225,000 to the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Conrtrol (“OFAC”) regarding OFAC’s investigation of a jet engine that may been shipped to Iran. This case is unique in that OFAC did not assess the fine because the jet engine was shipped to Iran, but because Pinnacle Aircraft Parts failed to properly comply with it subpoena to provide all records about that shipment.
On November 30, 2010, from 12 to 1:30 p.m., the National Customs Brokers and Forwarders Association of America (NCBFAA) is hosting a webinar on the topic of “EPA Import Compliance – What To Do When Things Go Wrong”. Instructor will be Peter Quinter, Partner in Charge, Customs and International Trade Law Department, Becker & Poliakoff law firm.
Maerk Line, Ltd. paid the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) $3 million to settle allegations of violations of the U.S. trade embargo with Sudan and Iran that Maersk committed between 2003 and 2007. How the world’s largest ocean transportation company committed such violations is a good story. How Maersk’s lawyer was able to limit the payment to $3 million is also important to understand.
The annual conference of the National Customs Brokers and Forwarders Association of America (NCBFAA) just concluded in San Antonio, Texas. Several prominent speakers from U.S. Customs, the Federal Maritime Commission, the U.S. Census Bureau, the Bureau of Industry and Security, the Office of Foreign Assets Control, Transportation Security Administration, and the Department of Homeland Security discussed new policies and procedures that every customs broker and international freight forwarder should use to serve their import and export clients.
With all of the complexities involved in the import process, even customs brokers can make mistakes such as by providing the wrong tariff classification of the imported item to U.S. Customs and Border Protection. A customs broker who makes such a mistake may become the subject of an investigation by U.S. Customs which ultimately results in a $30,000 penalty against the broker.
As of January 26, 2010, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will require that all importers comply with the Importer Security Filing (ISF), also popularly known as “10 +2″ because of the 10 elements required to be provided to CBP relevant to the importer and 2 elements required to be provided to CBP relevant to the carrier. CBP has announced that as of January 26, 2010, it will also begin to issue penalties of either $5,000 or $10,000 against importers who fail to comply with ISF; something CBP calls its “enforcement phase”. Importers who self-file ISF, or their agents, must understand the changes, comply with them, and, when a penalty is issued by CBP, respond in writing to mitigate the penalty.
Effective August 20, 2009, the new Transportation Security Administration (TSA) regulations increased the maximum amount of its monetary penalties against aircraft operators and freight forwarders/indirect air carriers (IACs) for violations of the Transportation Security Regulations. TSA also made significant change to its Investigative and Enforcement Procedures in 49 CFR Part 1503. There are ways to avoid being penalized by the TSA, or to reduce any monetary penalty assessed by the TSA for air cargo transportation related violations.
If your company ships hazardous materials (a/k/a “HAZMAT”), a single misstep could cause your business to incur hundreds of thousands of dollars in penalties. If you think “well, I made only one mistake–I won’t get caught,” or if you think you can talk yourself out of getting a penalty like you do a speeding ticket, think again. When the FAA investigates an incident and issues a penalty, you can bet what you think is just one violation will quickly become multiple violations.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) ordered by Court to evaluate at least 10 factors when determining the proper penalty against a customs broker for failure to exercise proper supervision and control.