NEWARK, N.J. – A company based in the People’s Republic of China, along with three businesses located in New Jersey and New York, entered into settlement agreements with the United States, admitting they took steps to avoid paying customs duties, U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger announced today.
According to the admissions and contentions of the United States in the settlement agreements:
United Silica Products Inc. (USP) is a company based in Franklin, New Jersey. From July 22, 2015, and Oct. 6, 2020, USP purchased certain merchandise that was manufactured by Noble Brand Holdings Ltd. (Noble) in China. In connection with the sale of its products, Noble generated two sets of invoices – one that showed the amount actually paid by USP and another, false invoice, that undervalued the products sold to USP. Noble provided USP with the invoices showing the amount actually paid and sent the false invoices to Argos Express Ltd., a New York-based freight forwarding company. Argos then provided the false invoices to USP’s New York-based customs broker, United Way International Inc. for purposes of making customs declarations on USP’s behalf.
In entering goods into the United States, customs brokers and importers of record are required to provide true and accurate disclosures concerning the value of the goods being imported. In the settlement agreements, the companies admitted that the false statements on the customs forms reduced the customs duties paid to the United States.
In the settlement agreements announced today, Noble agreed to pay $500,000; USP and its owner, Lynnmarie Boccuzzo, agreed to pay $20,000 and $5,000, respectively; Argos and United Way agreed to pay $15,000 each. The payments resolve the parties’ potential liability under, among other statutes, the False Claims Act.
U.S. Attorney Sellinger credited special agents with the Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Ricky J. Patel in New York, with the investigation leading to the settlement.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney David V. Simunovich of the Health Care Fraud Unit in Newark.