Furniture importers pay $275,000 to settle False Claims Act allegations for evading customs duties

by Ben Vernia | May 17th, 2017

On May 1, the Department of Justice announced that a Texas-based furniture importer, one of its executives, and its agent had agreed to pay $275,000 to settle allegations that the company submitted false claims to evade customs duties on furniture made in China. According to DOJ’s press release:

The Department of Justice announced today that Import Merchandising Concepts L.P. (IMC) and two individuals, Glen Michaels and Alan Lewis, have agreed to pay $275,000 to resolve allegations that the company improperly evaded customs duties on imports of wooden bedroom furniture from the People’s Republic of China (PRC), in violation of the False Claims Act. IMC imports, among other things, bedroom furniture that is sold for use in university student housing. The company is headquartered in Addington, Texas. Glen Michaels is an IMC executive, and Alan Lewis was an IMC agent.

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The settlement announced today resolves allegations that IMC, led by Glen Michaels and Alan Lewis, evaded antidumping duties on wooden bedroom furniture imported from the PRC between 2009 and 2014, by misclassifying the furniture as non-bedroom furniture on its official import documents. Antidumping duties protect against foreign companies “dumping” products on the U.S. market at prices below cost. The U.S. Department of Commerce assesses and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) collects these duties to protect U.S. businesses and level the playing field for domestic products. At the time of the imports alleged in this case, wooden bedroom furniture from the PRC was subject to a 216 percent antidumping duty; non-bedroom furniture was not subject to any antidumping duties.

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