Bassett Mirror Co. settles whistleblower’s charges

by Ben Vernia | January 21st, 2018

On January 16, the Department of Justice announced that Virginia-based Bassett Mirror Co. had agreed to pay $10.5 million to resolve civil allegations, originally brought by a whistleblower, that the company evaded customs duties by mischaracterizing bedroom furniture it imported from China. According to DOJ’s press release:

Virginia-based home furnishings company, Bassett Mirror Company, has agreed to pay the United States $10.5 million to resolve allegations that it violated the False Claims Act by knowingly making false statements on customs declarations to avoid paying antidumping duties on wooden bedroom furniture imported from the People’s Republic of China (PRC), the Justice Department announced today.

The United States alleged that between January 2009 and February 2014, Bassett Mirror evaded antidumping duties owed on wooden bedroom furniture that the company imported from the PRC by knowingly 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 Department of Commerce assesses, and the Department of Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection collects, these duties to protect U.S. businesses and level the playing field for domestic products.  Imports of PRC-made wooden bedroom furniture have been subject to antidumping duties since 2004.  At the time of the alleged conduct in this case, wooden bedroom furniture from the PRC was subject to a 216 percent antidumping duty; non-bedroom furniture was not subject to an antidumping duty.

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According to the Government, the whistleblower will be paid $1.9 million (an 18.1% relator’s share).

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