WASHINGTON – Univar USA Inc. (Univar), a subsidiary of Univar Inc., of Downers Grove, Illinois, has agreed to pay the United States $62.5 million to settle allegations under the customs penalty statute that it was grossly negligent or negligent when it imported 36 shipments of transshipped saccharin between 2007 and 2012. The saccharin was manufactured in China and transshipped through Taiwan to evade a 329 percent antidumping duty that applied to saccharin from China. The antidumping duty was a remedial measure in response to injury sustained by the domestic saccharin industry by reason of dumping of Chinese saccharin. The transshipment resulted in the evasion of approximately $36 million in antidumping duties.
The settlement resolves a lawsuit brought in the United States Court of International Trade seeking recovery of unpaid antidumping duties and penalties under 19 U.S.C. § 1592 totaling $84 million plus interest. In that action, the government alleged that Univar was grossly negligent or negligent in failing to determine that its supplier in Taiwan was not a manufacturer but, instead, imported saccharin into Taiwan from China for transshipment to the United States. This is the largest recovery under section 1592 ever reached in the Court of International Trade.
“Transshipment of merchandise through third countries to evade antidumping duties undermines the integrity of our trade laws and puts domestic manufacturers at risk from unfairly traded merchandise,” said Assistant Attorney General Jody Hunt for the Department of Justice’s Civil Division. “We enforce our laws against importers who fail to take all reasonable steps to vet their suppliers and determine the true country of origin of their merchandise.”
“We are committed to ensuring the laws that protect legitimate trade and US domestic industry, including anti-dumping and countervailing duties laws, are vigorously enforced,” said CBP’s Office of Trade Executive Assistant Commissioner Brenda Smith. “And to that end, we applaud the agencies that came together to settle this case.”
The settlement announced today was the result of an investigation by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Customs and Border Protection (CBP), and the Commercial Litigation Branch of the Justice Department’s Civil Division. The investigating ICE agent was Special Agent Patrick C. Deas. The case was handled by Commercial Litigation Branch Attorneys Patricia M. McCarthy, Stephen C. Tosini and Reta E. Bezak, and CBP Assistant Chief Counsel Currita C. Waddy.