Penalties, Seizures and Investigations

Violations of US customs and trade laws can result in criminal prosecution, merchandise seizure and the assessment of penalties equal to the US wholesale value of the imported merchandise. Customs civil penalties are often assessed as a multiple of the duties allegedly evaded—in amounts up to eight (8) times those duties. Where intentional misconduct has occurred, criminal sanctions against a corporation and the responsible officers or employees may also be pursued.

US Customs and Border Protection also enforces laws administered by other agencies, including, but not limited to, the Bureau of Industry and Security, the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the Fish and Wildlife Service. The civil penalties for violations of the statutes administered by these agencies can also be equal to, or even greater than, the domestic wholesale value of the imported merchandise.

Merchandise can be seized for a variety of reasons ranging from improper marking to violations of numerous other regulatory requirements. (See Product Admissibility). If the seizure is not timely challenged, the merchandise may be permanently forfeited and the company may also be subject to civil or criminal prosecution. Our attorneys have successfully secured the release of millions of dollars' worth of merchandise seized or detained by US Customs and Border Protection.

Our firm has extensive experience in resolving complex civil and criminal investigations and penalty claims. We also conduct internal investigations to identify potential violations and to assist our clients in resolving these issues with minimal liability.