Two men will pay a settlement following a claim by the United States alleging a scheme to evade paying custom duties on aluminum extrusions from the People’s Republic of China, the the Department of Justice announced Sept. 4.

Robert Wingfield of Texas and Bill Ma of New Jersey will pay $385,000 and $50,000, respectively, under the False Claims Act.

“The nation’s customs laws are designed to protect domestic manufacturers from unfair competition abroad,” said principal deputy assistant attorney general Benjamin C. Mizer. “These settlements show the Department of Justice is committed to pursuing claims against anyone involved in a scheme to seek an unfair advantage in U.S. markets by evading duties on imported goods, including individuals who make such evasion possible by the businesses that import the goods.”

According to the claim, Wingfield, a sales representative for Tau Shan Golden Gain Aluminum Products, allegedly worked with domestic importers and submitted false information to avoid paying duties. The complaint also states Ma formed a company, Northeastern Aluminum Corporation, solely to act as the importer of goods to evade paying duties from the real importers of the aluminum.

“When businesses and individuals fraudulently evade import duties designed to foster fair competition, consumers lose,” said U.S. Attorney A. Lee Bentley III of the Middle District of Florida. “We will hold accountable those involved in illegal schemes that place businesses in our district at an unfair disadvantage."

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