WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline) – University Furnishings LP and its partner Freedom Furniture Group Inc. (collectively University Furnishings) will pay $15 million to resolve False Claims Act allegations.
The lawsuit against University Furnishings alleges that the company, in order to avoid certain fees and duties on wooden bedroom furniture imported from China, made false statements or conspired with others to make false statements.
“Those who introduce goods into the United States must comply with the law, including the payment of customs duties meant to protect domestic companies and American workers from unfair competition abroad,” Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Benjamin C. Mizer, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Division, said. “The Department of Justice will zealously pursue those who seek an unfair advantage in U.S. markets by evading the duties owed on goods imported into this country.”
Between 2009 and 2012, the government alleged that University Furnishings knowingly misclassified its products in documents given to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, so that the company would not have to pay anti-dumping duties on its imports.
The allegations were brought under the whistle-blower provisions of the False Claims Act. Multiple groups worked together on the case, including the Civil Division’s Commercial Litigation Branch, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Texas, CBP’s Office of Field Operations, Office of Regulatory Audit and Office of Chief Counsel; and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations.