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Honey Broker Gets Jail Time for Duty Avoidance Scheme

Monday, October 21, 2013
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement reports that a California woman has been sentenced to three years in federal prison for her role in a scheme that avoided nearly $40 million in antidumping duties on imported honey. The woman was also ordered to pay restitution of over $500,000 in unpaid tariffs.

According to an ICE press release, the woman served as the U.S. agent for at least 12 importers controlled by Chinese honey producers and manufacturers. Last spring she pleaded guilty to three counts of violating U.S. importation laws by falsely declaring on the importation documents for hundreds of containers of Chinese-origin honey worth a combined $11.5 million that the shipments contained sugars, syrups and apple juice concentrate.

ICE states that the woman was among a group of individuals and companies that have been charged in the second phase of what one ICE official called “an extensive worldwide investigation that successfully dismantled the largest food fraud scheme in U.S. history.” The first phase focused on allegations of organizations on the supply side of the honey industry circumventing AD duties through illegal imports, including transshipment and mislabeling. The second phase involved the illegal buying, processing and trading of honey that illegally entered the U.S. on the demand side of the industry.

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