PITTSBURGH (Legal Newsline) – The Department of Justice announced a $3 million settlement against multiple importers and their owners to resolve allegations brought forth under the False Claims Act.

The defendants in the case include Ameri-Source International Inc., Ameri-Source Specialty Products Inc., Ameri-Source Holdings Inc., Ajay Goel and Thomas Diener, as well as a related importer, SMC Machining LLC, incorporated at Goel’s direction and formerly owned by his wife.

The department charged these defendants with attempting to evade customs duties on imports of small-diameter graphite electrodes from the People’s Republic of China.

“The nation’s customs laws are designed to protect domestic manufacturers from foreign products that enter the country at below-market prices due to unfair practices abroad,” Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Benjamin C. Mizer, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Division, said. “This settlement shows that 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 the individuals who run the companies and knowingly participate in such schemes.”

United States laws seek to protect U.S. manufacturers from unfair competition through “anti-dumping duties,” where foreign companies dump products into U.S. markets at prices below cost. The small-diameter graphite electrodes fall under this category, and have since 2008.

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