US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced on November 19 that it has collected $3,320,425 from an importer of machinery used in the production of optical lenses after CBP pursued action pursuant to 19 U.S.C. § 1592 for customs violations. According to the CBP announcement, “The company provided false descriptions, tariff classification numbers, and/or duty rates to CBP for the entries of certain machinery and repair parts. The matter was resolved when CBP accepted an offer in compromise submitted by the importer.” An offer in compromise is a written offer and deposit of funds to settle civil liability relating to a government claim arising under the customs laws.
CBP generally does not make public announcements of customs penalty actions and their outcomes. The decision to do so in this instance may indicate a heightened focus by CBP on its enforcement activities, including higher scrutiny of US importer activities, and its mission to pursue penalties where deemed applicable.
Note that Customs also has other enforcement mechanisms with varying degrees of invasiveness, including Requests for Information (CF-28), Notices of Action (CF-29), Quick Response Audits, and Focused Assessments, many of which have seen increased use over the past few years.
Given the current trade environment, now more than ever, it is imperative for importers to establish and enforce a rigorous customs compliance program.