On December 19, 2022, four companies based in the U.S. and China admitted to a scheme to avoid paying customs duties as part of a settlement with the U.S.
From July 2015 to October 2020, New Jersey-based United Silica Products (USP) purchased goods made by Noble Brand Holdings in China.
Noble provided two sets of invoices, one with the amount actually paid by USP and a false invoice that undervalued the products sold to USP.
Noble sent the fake invoices to Argos Express, a New York-based freight forwarding company.
Argos sent the false invoices to USP’s New York-based customs broker, United Way International to make customs declarations on USP’s behalf.
As part of the settlement, the companies admitted that the false statements reduced the customs duties paid to the U.S.
Noble agreed to pay $500,000; USP and its owner, Lynnmarie Boccuzzo, agreed to pay $20,000 and $5,000, respectively; Argos and United Way agreed to pay $15,000 each.
The payments resolve the companies’ potential liability under the False Claims Act.