In the decision issued last month by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in United States v. Trek Leather, Inc. and Harish Shadadpur, the Court addressed the reach of the Customs civil penalty statute to individuals (officers, employees, etc.) associated with importing entities.
In that case, the Court rejected the argument that, short of aiding and abetting fraudulent violations of the Customs laws, the government was limited to pursuing claims against the importer of record. Under the facts of the case, the Court of Appeals held that both Trek Leather (as importer) and its president (who was alleged to have directly participated in the undervaluation of merchandise imported by Trek Leather) could be held liable for penalties under 19 U.S.C. § 1592.
While the case is limited to its facts, it has generated concern in the importing community as to who may individually be held accountable for violations by an importing company. Arthur Bodek, Partner at Grunfeld, Desiderio, Lebowitz, Silverman & Klestadt (GDLSK) LLP, an Associate Member of USFIA, presented a one-hour webinar discussing the Trek Leather decision as well as other cases addressing individual liability for Customs violations.
PowerPoint Presentation: http://www.usfashionindustry.com/presentations/102114-USFIA-GDLSK-WEBINAR-Violations.pdf