WASHINGTON, D.C. — Tennessee-based Home Furnishing Resource Group Inc (HFRG) has reached an agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice to pay $500,000 to resolve allegations the company violated the False Claims Act on its customs declaration statements.
According to the Department of Justice, HFRG, operating under the name Function First Furniture, made false statements on customs declarations to evade having to pay anti-dumping duties on wooden bedroom furniture imported from The People's Republic of China (PRC).
A lawsuit filed against HFRG by one of its competitors, University Loft Company on behalf of the U.S. through the whistleblower provision of the False Claims Act, alleges between 2009 and 2014, the company misclassified wooden bedroom furniture imported from the PRC. The department says HFRG classified the imports as non-bedroom furniture on official import documents to avoid anti-dumping fees. At the time of the alleged violations, a 216 percent anti-dumping duty was due on wooden bedroom furniture imported from the PRC.
“The customs laws are intended to protect domestic companies and American workers from unfair foreign competition,” said Chad Readler, acting assistant attorney general of the Justice Department’s Civil Division, in a news release. “This settlement shows our commitment to pursue those who violate these laws and gain an illegal advantage in U.S. markets by evading the import duties owed on foreign-made goods."
As part of the resolution, University Loft Company will receive $75,000.