Janet Labuda on Trade by the Numbers

By Janet.Labuda@FormerFedsGroup.Com

Recently, President Trump sent a memo directing Secretary of Commerce, Wilber Ross, to initiate an investigation of steel and aluminum products. The rarely used investigative authority found under section 232(b)(1)(A) of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 (19 U.S.C. 1862(b)(1) determines any detrimental trade activity affecting U.S. national security.

In addition, the Presidential memo lists other “core industries such as…vehicles, aircraft, shipbuilding, and semiconductors. The administration considers these as “critical elements of our manufacturing and defense industrial bases, which we must defend against unfair trade practices and other abuses.”

The Secretary of Commerce reports to the President, within 270 days of initiating the investigation and focuses on whether the importation of the article in question is in such quantities or under such circumstances as to threaten to impair the national security. The President can concur, or not, with the Secretary’s recommendations, and take action to “adjust the imports of an article and its derivatives,” or other non-trade related actions as deemed necessary.

Another trade remedy is found in Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974. This law provides the United States with the authority to enforce trade agreements, resolve trade disputes, and open foreign markets to U.S. goods and services. It is the principal statutory authority under which the United States may impose trade sanctions on foreign countries that either violate trade agreements or engage in other unfair trade practices. When negotiations to remove the offending trade practice fail, the United States may take action to raise import duties on the foreign country’s products as a means to address the trade imbalance.

Under section 332 of the Tariff Act of 1930 (19 U.S.C. 1332), the U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) conducts investigations into trade and tariff matters upon request of the President, the U.S. House Committee on Ways and Means, the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance, either branch of the Congress, or upon the Commission’s own initiative. The USITC has broad authority to investigate matters pertaining to the customs laws of the United States, foreign competition with domestic industries, and international trade relations.

The USITC can also conduct investigations using section 337, to determine whether there is unfair competition in the importation of products into, or their subsequent sale in, the United States. Section 337 declares the infringement of a U.S. patent, copyright, registered trademark, or mask work to be an unlawful practice in import trade. It also declares unlawful other unfair methods of competition and unfair acts in the importation and subsequent sale of products in the United States, the threat or effect of which is to destroy or substantially injure a domestic industry, prevent the establishment of such an industry, or restrain or monopolize trade and commerce in the United States.

Section 337 investigations require formal hearings held before an administrative law judge. If a violation is found, the USITC may issue orders barring the importation of certain products into the United States. In addition to requesting long-term relief, complainants also may move for temporary relief pending final resolution of the investigation based on a showing of, among other things, irreparable harm in the absence of such temporary relief.

Subtitle A of title VII of the Tariff Act of 1930, as added by the Trade Agreements Act of 1979 (19 U.S.C. § 1671 et seq.) and subsequently amended, provides that countervailing duties will be imposed when two conditions are met: (a) the U.S. Department of Commerce (Commerce) determines that the government of a country, or any public entity within the territory of a country, is providing, directly or indirectly, a countervailable subsidy with respect to the manufacture, production, or export of the subject merchandise that is imported or sold (or likely to be sold) for importation into the United States and (b), in the case of merchandise imported from a Subsidies Agreement country, the USITC determines that an industry in the United States is materially injured or threatened with material injury, or that the establishment of an industry is materially retarded, by reason of imports of that merchandise.

If Commerce determines that a countervailable subsidy is being bestowed upon merchandise imported from a country that is not a Subsidies Agreement country, a countervailing duty can be levied on the merchandise in the amount of the net countervailable subsidy without a USITC determination of material injury.

In addition, Subtitle B provides that antidumping duties will be imposed when two conditions are met: (a) Commerce determines that the foreign subject merchandise is being, or is likely to be, sold in the United States at less than fair value, and (b) the USITC determines that an industry in the United States is materially injured or threatened with material injury, or that the establishment of an industry is materially retarded, by reason of imports of that merchandise.

Sections 201 to 204 of the Trade Act of 1974 (19 U.S.C. 2251 to 2254) concern investigations conducted by the USITC to determine if a product is being imported into the United States in such increased quantities as to be a substantial cause of serious injury, or the threat thereof, to a domestic industry.

If the USITC makes an affirmative determination, it recommends to the President the action that will address the serious injury or threat and facilitate positive adjustment by the industry to import competition. The President makes the final decision on remedy, including the form, amount, and duration.

There is no doubt that the current administration will use every available tool to initiate investigations and take action where such investigations determine injury to U.S. domestic industry by foreign imports. Continue to keep track of the announcements by the White House, Commerce, the USITC and CBP, and don’t get tripped up on the numbers.

Chicago Scrap Iron Refining Company and Its President Plead Guilty to Criminal Tax Violations for Concealing $11.6 Million from IRS

Department of Justice U.S. Attorney’s Office

Northern District of Illinois

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

CHICAGO — A Chicago-based scrap iron refining business and its president admitted in federal court today that they concealed from the Internal Revenue Service more than $11.6 million in cash wages paid to employees.

ACME REFINING CO., which does business as Acme Refining Scrap Iron & Metal Co., and its president, LAURENCE C. BARON, each pleaded guilty to impairing and impeding the IRS. Acme and Baron admitted in plea agreements that from 2009 to 2013 they paid cash wages of more than $11.6 million to at least 50 employees, but failed to report the payments to the IRS. Acme and Baron also acknowledged that they willfully failed to withhold for the government the required amounts for FICA taxes and Medicare.

As part of their plea agreements, Baron and Acme agreed to pay restitution of $5,878,327 to the IRS and the state of Illinois, with Acme paying $4,545,243 and Baron paying $1,333,084.

The guilty pleas were announced by Joel R. Levin, Acting United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; and Gabriel L. Grchan, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division in Chicago.

Impairing and impeding the IRS is punishable by up to three years in prison. Baron, 70, of Burr Ridge, also pleaded guilty to a separate count of willfully filing a false individual income tax return, which carries the same maximum penalty. U.S. District Judge Harry D. Leinenweber set sentencing for Sept. 14, 2017.

The cases against Acme and Baron are part an ongoing federal investigation of cash transactions in the Chicago-area scrap metal industry that has resulted in several previous convictions.

According to the plea agreements, Baron directed Acme employees to issue multiple vouchers for cash payments due to suppliers that exceeded $10,000, using nominee or fictitious payees as the purported seller. Between 2009 and 2013 the company and Baron obtained approximately $152 million in cash from two currency exchanges, then used the money to pay 85 separate scrap metal suppliers in order to assist those suppliers in underreporting their income and taxes.

Acme – at the direction of Baron – also spent at least $1.6 million to fund construction of a personal residence in Wisconsin that had no business-related purpose, the plea agreements state. The company falsely recorded this expenditure as “cost of goods sold,” in order to reduce Acme’s tax liability and conceal the payment on behalf of its corporate officers. The bogus records included phony invoices that fraudulently identified the payments as purchases of scrap steel.

Baron also admitted filing false individual income tax returns for tax years 2011 and 2012. The fraudulent returns resulted in a total federal and state tax loss of approximately $208,875, the plea agreement states.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Patrick King.

Department of Justice U.S. Attorney’s Office

Southern District of New York

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Friday, April 21, 2017

Chinese National Pleads Guilty To Attempting To Illegally Export High-Grade Carbon Fiber To China
Joon H. Kim, the Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Mary B. McCord, the Acting Assistant Attorney General for the National Security Division of the Department of Justice (“NSD”), announced that FUYI SUN, a/k/a “Frank,” a citizen of the People’s Republic of China (“China”), pled guilty today before U.S. District Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein to violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (“IEEPA”) in connection with a scheme to illegally export to China, without a license, high-grade carbon fiber, which is used primarily in aerospace and military applications.

 

Acting Manhattan U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim said: “As Fuyi Sun admitted today in court, he tried to skirt U.S. export laws by hiding his purchase of high-grade carbon fiber for the Chinese military. Sun used fraudulent documents and codewords in his efforts to obtain this highly protected material, which is used in aerospace and defense programs, and to avoid detection. Together with our law enforcement partners, we will continue to enforce the laws that protect our national security.”

 

NSD Acting Assistant Attorney General Mary McCord said: “Today, Fuyi Sun admitted to attempting to procure high-grade carbon fiber – which has sophisticated aerospace and defense applications – for the Chinese military. The defendant was willing to pay a premium to evade U.S. export laws and illegally transfer this highly protected material. The National Security Division will continue to identify those who violate IEEPA and other laws that protect our national assets from reaching the hands of potential adversaries.”

 

According to the allegations contained in the Complaint and the Indictment filed against SUN and statements made in court filings and proceedings, including today’s guilty plea:

 

Since approximately 2011, SUN has attempted to acquire extremely high-grade carbon fiber, including Toray type M60JB-3000-50B carbon fiber (“M60 Carbon Fiber”). M60 Carbon Fiber has applications in aerospace technologies, unmanned aerial vehicles (commonly known as “drones”) and other government defense applications. Accordingly, M60 Carbon Fiber is strictly controlled – and requires a license for export to China – for nuclear non-proliferation and anti-terrorism reasons.

 

In furtherance of his attempts to illegally export M60 Carbon Fiber from the United States to China without a license, SUN contacted what he believed was a distributor of carbon fiber – but was, in fact, an undercover entity created by HSI and “staffed” by HSI undercover special agents (the “UC Company”). SUN inquired about purchasing the M60 Carbon Fiber without the required license. In the course of his years’ long communications with the undercover agents and UC Company, SUN repeatedly suggested various security measures that he believed would protect them from “U.S. intelligence.” Among other such measures, at one point, SUN instructed the undercover agents to use the term “banana” instead of “carbon fiber” in their communications. Consequently, soon thereafter he inquired about purchasing 450 kilograms of “banana” for more than $62,000. In order to avoid detection, SUN also suggested removing the identifying barcodes for the M60 Carbon Fiber, prior to transshipment, and further suggested that they identify the M60 Carbon Fiber as “acrylic fiber” in customs documents.

 

On April 11, 2016, SUN traveled from China to New York for the purpose of purchasing M60 Carbon Fiber from the UC Company. During meetings with the undercover agents, on or about April 11 and 12, among other things, SUN repeatedly suggested that the Chinese military was the ultimate end-user for the M60 Carbon Fiber he sought to acquire from the UC Company, and claimed to have personally worked in the Chinese missile program. SUN further asserted that he maintained a close relationship with the Chinese military, had a sophisticated understanding of the Chinese military’s need for carbon fiber, and suggested that he would be supplying the M60 Carbon Fiber to the Chinese military or to institutions closely associated with it.

 

On April 12, 2016, SUN agreed to purchase two cases of M60 Carbon Fiber from the UC Company. On that date, SUN paid the undercover agents purporting to represent the UC Company $23,000 in cash for the carbon fiber, as well as an additional $2,000 as compensation for the risk he believed the UC Company was taking to illegally export the carbon fiber to China without a license. SUN was arrested the next day, April 13, 2016.

 

* * *

 

SUN, 53, pled guilty today to attempting to violate IEEPA, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. The maximum potential sentence in this case is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the judge. SUN is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Hellerstein on July 26, 2017 at 11:00 a.m.

 

Mr. Kim praised the extraordinary investigative work of the New York Field Office of the Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations; the New York Field Office of the Department of Commerce, Bureau of Industry and Security, Office of Export Enforcement; and the Northeast Field Office of the Department of Defense, Defense Criminal Investigative Service. Mr. Kim also thanked the Counterintelligence and Export Control Section of the Department of Justice’s National Security Division.

 

This prosecution is being handled by the Office’s Terrorism and International Narcotics and Complex Frauds and Cybercrime Units. Assistant United States Attorneys Matthew Podolsky, Patrick Egan, and Nick Lewin are in charge of the prosecution, with assistance from Trial Attorney David Recker of the Counterintelligence and Export Control Section.

Four Chinese Nationals Arrested and Charged in Connection with College Admissions Exam Scam

Department of Justice U.S. Attorney’s Office

District of Massachusetts

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Thursday, May 4, 2017
Students Arrested Today in Massachusetts, Arizona and New Jersey on Immigration-Related Charges
BOSTON – Yue Wang, 25, Shikun Zhang, 24, Leyi Huang, 21, and Xiaomeng Cheng, 21, all in the United States on F-1 non-immigrant student visas, were arrested today on charges of conspiracies to defraud the United States.

 

The conspiracies involved Wang, a current student at the Hult International Business School in Cambridge, Mass., agreeing to sit for the TOEFL exam in the place of Zhang, Huang, and Cheng. The TOEFL exam is an English language test recognized by more than 9,000 colleges, universities, and agencies in more than 130 countries. It is also used by the United States government in issuing, extending, or renewing F-1 student visas.

 

After Wang took the TOEFL exam in her co-conspirators places, her scores were allegedly used by the co-conspirators to apply for admission to various universities in the United States. Zhang used this fraudulently acquired TOEFL score to gain admission to Northeastern University in Boston, Mass.; Huang fraudulently used the TOEFL score to gain admission to Penn State University in Erie, Pa.; and Cheng used the fraudulently acquired TOEFL score to gain admission to Arizona State University. In each case, the United States Department of State issued the student an F-1 non-immigrant student visa based on their admittance to these educational institutions.

 

“Illegal schemes to circumvent the TOEFL exam jeopardize both academic integrity and our country’s student visa program,” said William B. Weinreb, Acting U.S Attorney. “The TOEFL exam ensures that international students have adequate English language skills to succeed in higher education programs in the United States. It also helps maintain the security of our borders and immigration system. By effectively purchasing passing scores, they violated the rules and regulations of the exam, taking spots at US colleges and universities that could have gone to others.”

 

“These schemes not only undermine the integrity of the academic institutions, they also undermine our nation’s immigration system,” said Matthew Etre, Special Agent in Charge of HSI in Boston. “HSI will continue to protect the nation’s immigration system by working with our federal law enforcement partners and our partners in academia to ensure that those involved in these scams are held accountable.”

 

The charge of conspiracy to defraud the United States provides for a sentence of no greater than 5 years in prison, up to three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000. The defendants are subject to deportation after conviction and serving any sentence imposed. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

Fifa Audit And Compliance Committee Member Pleads Guilty To Corruption Charges

Department of Justice U.S. Attorney’s Office

Eastern District of New York

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Fifa Audit And Compliance Committee Member Pleads Guilty To Corruption Charges
Defendant Accepted and Facilitated Bribes Within the Asian Football Confederation
Earlier today, Richard K. Lai, a United States citizen, pleaded guilty to a criminal information charging him with two counts of wire fraud conspiracy in connection with his participation in multiple schemes to accept and pay bribes to soccer officials. Lai also pleaded guilty to one count of failing to disclose foreign bank accounts and agreed to pay more than $1.1 million in forfeiture and penalties. The plea was entered before United States District Judge Pamela K. Chen at federal courthouse in Brooklyn, New York.

 

The guilty plea was announced by Bridget M. Rohde, Acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York; William F. Sweeney, Jr., Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office (FBI); and Special Agent-in-Charge R. Damon Rowe, Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation, Los Angeles Field Office (IRS).

 

“Today’s plea marks another important step in our ongoing effort to root out corruption in international soccer,” stated Acting United States Attorney Rohde. “The defendant abused the trust placed in him as a soccer official in order to line his own pockets, and now he will be held to account. The defendant’s breach of trust was particularly significant given his position as a member of the FIFA Audit and Compliance committee, which must play an important and independent role if corruption within FIFA is to be eliminated.”
“Years of this systemic culture of corruption and greed have tainted one of the world’s most popular sports,” stated Assistant Director-in-Charge Sweeney. “Kickbacks and bribes became the norm for doing business with FIFA, but not anymore. The plea deal today and all the other cases tied to this investigation prove our work isn’t done, and we will continue to pursue anyone who had their hands in illegal activity.”
“Today’s guilty plea by Guam Football Association president Richard K. Lai, reaffirms the dedication of IRS Criminal Investigation to use our financial investigative expertise to uncover corrupt schemes and illicit payments involving FIFA officials,” stated Special Agent-in-Charge Rowe. “Co-conspirators may try to hide and launder the proceeds of their corrupt self-enrichment, but as mentioned in the legal documents filed today, IRS-CI Special Agents will trace and uncover those funds both through the U.S. financial system and beyond, to offshore jurisdictions in locations such as Asia, the Middle East, and around the globe.”
As alleged in the criminal information to which he pleaded guilty, Lai, a resident of the U.S. territory of Guam, has served as the president of the Guam Football Association (GFA) since 2001. In that capacity, Lai had a vote in FIFA presidential elections. Lai has also served at various times as a member and chair of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Finance Committee and a member of the AFC Executive Committee, and is currently a member of the AFC Marketing Committee and the FIFA Audit and Compliance Committee.

 

As also set forth in the information, Lai pleaded guilty to a scheme in which he received $100,000 in bribes in 2011 from an official of the AFC who was then running for the FIFA presidency, in exchange for Lai’s vote and support in the then-upcoming FIFA presidential election.

 

As further described in the information, Lai also pleaded guilty to a scheme in which he received over $850,000 in bribes between 2009 and 2014 from a faction of soccer officials in the AFC region. Lai received those bribes in exchange for using his influence as a soccer official to advance the interests of the faction that bribed him, including by helping officials in that faction identify other officials in the AFC to whom they should offer bribes. The goal of this scheme was for the faction to gain control of the AFC and influence FIFA.

 

The guilty plea announced today is part of an investigation into corruption in international soccer being led by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York, the FBI New York Field Office, and the IRS-CI Los Angeles Field Office. The prosecutors in Brooklyn are receiving considerable assistance from attorneys in various parts of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division in Washington, D.C., including the Office of International Affairs, the Organized Crime and Gang Section, the Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section, and the Fraud Section, as well as from INTERPOL Washington.

 

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Paul Tuchmann, Nadia Shihata, and Brian D. Morris of the Eastern District of New York are in charge of today’s prosecution.

 

The government’s investigation is ongoing.

Philadelphia Area Restauranteur Indicted On Tax Offenses

Department of Justice U.S. Attorney’s Office

Eastern District of Pennsylvania

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Thursday, May 11, 2017
PHILADELPHIA – Giuseppe “Pino” DiMeo, 49 years old, and a resident of Eagleville, Pennsylvania was charged today by indictment[1]
with two counts of conspiring to defraud the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”), and twelve counts of filing false tax returns announced Acting United States Attorney Louis D. Lappen. The indictment charges that from 2008 through 2012, DiMeo conspired with his business partners at restaurants in Wilmington, Delaware and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to defraud the IRS of income taxes and payroll taxes. DiMeo skimmed cash from four of his restaurants and failed to report the cash income to the IRS. DiMeo also paid many of his employees in cash under the table and failed to inform his accountant or the IRS about his businesses’ cash payroll. In total, DiMeo had over three million dollars in unreported gross receipts and failed to pay to the IRS approximately one million dollars in income taxes and payroll taxes.

DiMeo has owned and operated numerous restaurants in the Philadelphia area, and presently owns DiMeo’s Pizzaiuoli Napulitani in Wilmington, Delaware; Pizzeria DiMeo’s (Andorra) in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and Arde Osteria in Wayne, Pennsylvania.

The defendant faces a maximum possible sentence of 46 years of imprisonment, three years of supervised release, a $3.5 million fine, and a $1,400 special assessment.

The case was investigated by the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigations,

and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Maria M. Carrillo and Tiwana L. Wright.

Defense Contractor Sentenced to 5 Years in Federal Prison for $53 Million Procurement Fraud and Illegal Gratuities Scheme

Department of Justice U.S. Attorney’s Office

District of Maryland

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

2015-05-29 11.34.57

Friday, April 28, 2017

Defense Contractor Sentenced to 5 Years in Federal Prison for $53 Million Procurement Fraud and Illegal Gratuities Scheme

Baltimore, Maryland – On April 27, 2017, U.S. District Judge Marvin J. Garbis sentenced John Wilkerson, age 51, of Moultrie, Georgia to five years in prison, followed by three years of supervised release, for a wire fraud conspiracy and for paying illegal gratuities to a government official, in connection with the award of more than $53 million in federal government contracts. Judge Garbis also ordered Wilkerson to pay forfeiture and restitution in the amount of $9,441,340.11.

 

The sentence was announced by Acting United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Stephen M. Schenning; Commander of the Air Force Office of Special Investigations (OSI); Special Agent in Charge Robert Craig, Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS), Mid-Atlantic Field Office; and U.S. Small Business Administration Acting Inspector General Mike Ware.

 

According to his plea agreement, Wilkerson was a Department of Defense Account Manager for Iron Bow Technologies, LLC (Iron Bow), which provided IT consulting and other services to government and industry customers. Wilkerson was also part owner and operated an information technology company, Superior Communications Solutions, Inc. (SCSI).

 

Andrew Bennett, who was separately charged and has pled guilty, was a program manager for an information technology company, Advanced C4 Solutions, or AC4S, from 2005 until 2011. In 2011, Bennett left AC4S and went to work for Wilkerson at SCSI.

 

James T. Shank, who was separately charged and has pled guilty, was a Program Manager at the United States Navy’s Space and Naval Warfare (SPAWAR) Systems Center

 

From September 2009 through August 2012 Wilkerson, Bennett and Shank conspired to steer government contracts at Joint Base Andrews to companies affiliated with Wilkerson and Bennett. After the award of the contracts, Wilkerson offered, and Shank accepted, employment with SCSI while Shank was still a government employee and while he was taking official actions that benefited Wilkerson. In addition, Wilkerson paid Shank $86,000 in the year after Shank retired from government service, funneling the payment through two other companies in order to conceal the source of the funds. Wilkerson also hired Bennett and paid him a $500,000 bonus using proceeds from the fraud scheme.

 

For example, Shank, Wilkerson, and Bennett developed a request for proposal (RFP) for DO27, a contract to supply labor services for an Air Force technology project, including for overall project management services, so that AC4S would win the contract. On June 10, 2010, DO27 was awarded to AC4S in the amount of $18,332,738.10. Wilkerson provided Bennett with a quote for labor on behalf of SCSI that was less than the quote he had previously submitted on behalf of Iron Bow as their sales representative. After SCSI was selected as a subcontractor on DO27, it subcontracted with Iron Bow to provide most of the labor SCSI was supposed to provide under DO27. Wilkerson was able to earn income from the work Iron Bow employees were doing by having SCSI act as a middleman and charging a mark-up on Iron Bow’s work. Wilkerson and Bennett also directed an SCSI employee to create false invoices supposedly documenting the hours SCSI employees spent working on DO27, which were submitted to AC4S and paid by the United States government. SCSI received $6,794,432.98 on DO27 out of the $18 million AC4S received for providing labor for the project.

 

Shank also initiated the procurement process on more than 11 delivery orders that purchased telecommunications equipment and furniture as part of the Air Force project. Those delivery orders were issued to Iron Bow in 2010 and 2011. Wilkerson took multiple items of commercially available furniture, bundled them together and assigned them an SCSI specific number and a price that included a significant mark up over what SCSI paid the furniture manufacturer for the items. Shank then submitted to SPAWAR contracting officers a purchase order asking for authority to buy the bundle of furniture that bore the SCSI specific part number. SCSI received approximately $33 million of the $35 million paid to Iron Bow under the various furniture and equipment delivery orders. Wilkerson charged the United States a 25 percent markup on furniture purchased under these two purchase orders, resulting in a profit to him of more than $6 million.

 

In addition, from 2010 until his retirement in June 2011, Shank falsely certified that the United States government received more than $1 million worth of goods under the W91QUZ-07-D-0010 contract that the government did not in fact receive.

 

In late 2010 or early 2011, Wilkerson offered Shank employment. Shank did not disclose that fact to anyone at SPAWAR and did not recuse himself from any of the contracts that benefited Wilkerson. In February 2011, Bennett left AC4S and went to work for Wilkerson at SCSI. Bennett received a $500,000 bonus when he joined SCSI, which was paid for by profit Wilkerson had earned on the furniture contracts.

 

Shank accepted employment with SCSI in May 2011, but was still working for SPAWAR when he approved more than $1.1 million worth of invoices that benefitted SCSI and Wilkerson.

 

Between July 2011 until August 2012, Wilkerson paid Shank approximately $86,000. The funds that Wilkerson paid Shank were funneled through T&M Communications, LLC, a company owned by T.R., a senior executive at SCSI, who ultimately paid out the funds to Shank. Further, in some instances funds paid to Shank were also funneled through Decision Point Technologies, LLC, another company owned by Wilkerson. Shank did no work for Decision Point Technologies or T&M Communications in that time period.

 

The National Procurement Fraud Task Force was formed in October 2006 to promote the early detection, identification, prevention and prosecution of procurement fraud associated with the increase in government contracting activity for national security and other government programs. The Procurement Fraud Task Force includes the United States Attorneys’ Offices, the FBI, the U.S. Inspectors General community and a number of other federal law enforcement agencies. This case, as well as other cases brought by members of the Task Force, demonstrate the Department of Justice’s commitment to helping ensure the integrity of the government procurement process.

 

Acting United States Attorney Stephen M. Schenning thanked Air Force OSI, DCIS, and the U.S. Small Business Administration Office of Inspector General for their work in the investigation. Mr. Schenning commended Assistant U.S. Attorneys Leo J. Wise and Philip A. Selden, who are prosecuting the case.

Former Hedge Fund Manager Pleads Guilty to $9 Million Investment Fraud

Department of Justice U.S. Attorney’s Office

Eastern District of Virginia

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Friday, May 12, 2017

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – A Leesburg man pleaded guilty today to wire fraud in connection with his misuse of clients funds, some of which were invested through a purported hedge fund called Crescent Ridge Capital Partners.

According to the statement of facts filed with the plea agreement, Tamer Moumen, 39, defrauded over 50 clients between 2012 and 2017. Moumen falsely told investors that he was a successful trader who consistently beat the S&P500 and was overseeing tens of millions of dollars through his company, Crescent Ridge Capital Partners. Moumen encouraged dozens of clients, including many who were nearing retirement age, to liquidate their other investments and retirement accounts, and invest with him. Moumen did not tell investors that he actually had no experience managing a hedge fund, had a history of losing money in the securities market, and was relying on investor money to support his lifestyle and pay personal expenses. For example, Moumen used investor money to help finance the purchase of a $1 million personal residence in Leesburg, Virginia, a new Tesla, and to repay old investors. In nearly all instances, Moumen lost or spent his clients’ money within a matter of weeks or months of their original investment, but would conceal those facts by providing statements that showed the investment as steadily growing.

According to the statement of facts filed with the plea agreement, beginning in 2015, Moumen was involved with two fundraising efforts that solicited donations to benefit refugees, including a GoFundMe campaign and the Northern Virginia Refugee Fund. Moumen had sole control of the donated funds, some of which he transferred into accounts in his name, where the money was commingled with investor funds. Moumen used money in these accounts to pay personal expenses.

Moumen faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison when sentenced on July 28. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

Dana J. Boente, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; and Andrew W. Vale, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, made the announcement after U.S. District Judge Anthony J. Trenga accepted the plea. Assistant U.S. Attorney Katherine L. Wong is prosecuting the case.

Former Minister Of Mines For The Republic Of Guinea Convicted Of Receiving And Laundering $8.5 Million In Bribes From Chinese Companies

Department of Justice U.S. Attorney’s Office

Southern District of New York

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Former Minister Of Mines For The Republic Of Guinea Convicted Of Receiving And Laundering $8.5 Million In Bribes From Chinese Companies
Joon H. Kim, the Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Kenneth A. Blanco, the Acting Assistant Attorney General of the Department of Justice’s Criminal Division, announced that MAHMOUD THIAM was convicted in Manhattan federal court yesterday of money laundering charges stemming from his scheme to launder $8.5 million in bribes that THIAM received from senior representatives of a Chinese conglomerate. THIAM was charged with using his official position as Minister of Mines for the Republic of Guinea to facilitate the award to the Chinese conglomerate of exclusive and highly valuable investment rights in various sectors of the Guinean economy. THIAM was convicted after a seven-day trial before U.S. District Judge Denise L. Cote.

 

Acting Manhattan U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim said: “As a New York federal jury has now found, Thiam abused his official government position to enrich himself at the expense of one of Africa’s poorest countries. Thiam laundered the proceeds of his bribery scheme into the United States to fund his lavish lifestyle, buying a multi-million dollar estate in Dutchess County, and paying for private schools for his children. Thanks to the work of the FBI, Thiam’s scheme was exposed and he was swiftly convicted.”

 

Acting Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Blanco said: “As a high-level Minister in Guinea, Thiam sold out his country and then used U.S. banks and real estate to hide millions in bribes paid to him by a Chinese conglomerate. Corruption is a global disease that undermines the rule of law everywhere. The Justice Department is committed to investigating and prosecuting those who commit these crimes and use the U.S. financial system and free marketplace to conceal and benefit from their crimes.”

 

According to the Indictment, other filings in Manhattan federal court, and the evidence admitted at trial:

 

THIAM, a United States citizen who was Minister of Mines and Geology of the Republic of Guinea in 2009 and 2010, engaged in a scheme to accept bribes from senior representatives of a Chinese conglomerate and to launder that money into the United States and elsewhere. In exchange for these multimillion-dollar bribe payments, THIAM used his position as Minister of Mines to facilitate the award to the Chinese conglomerate of exclusive and highly valuable investment rights in a wide range of sectors of the Guinean economy, including near-total control of Guinea’s significant mining sector.

 

In order to receive the bribes covertly, THIAM opened a bank account in Hong Kong (the “Hong Kong Account”) and misreported his occupation to the Hong Kong bank to conceal his status as a public official in Guinea. Upon receiving the bribes, THIAM transferred millions of dollars in bribe proceeds from the Hong Kong Account to, among others, THIAM’s bank accounts in the United States; a Malaysian company that facilitated and concealed THIAM’s purchase of a $3,750,000 estate in Dutchess County, New York; private preparatory schools in Manhattan attended by THIAM’s children; and at least one other West African public official.

 

To further conceal the unlawful source of the bribery proceeds that THIAM transferred from the Hong Kong Account to banks in the United States, THIAM lied to two banks based in Manhattan and on tax returns filed with the Internal Revenue Service regarding the bribe payments, his position as a foreign public official, and the source of the funds in the Hong Kong Account. In total, THIAM received approximately $8.5 million in bribes from the Chinese conglomerate.

 

* * *

 

THIAM, 50, of Manhattan, was convicted of one count of transacting in criminally derived property, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, and one count of money laundering, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. THIAM is scheduled to be sentenced before Judge Cote on August 11, 2017, at 10:00 a.m.

 

The maximum potential sentences in this case are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the judge.

 

Mr. Kim praised the outstanding investigative work of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs also provided substantial assistance in this matter. The Office is grateful to the government of Guinea for providing substantial assistance in gathering evidence during this investigation.

 

The prosecution of this case is being handled by the Office’s Complex Frauds and Cybercrime Unit. Assistant United States Attorneys Elisha J. Kobre and Christopher J. Dimase and Trial Attorney Lorinda I. Laryea of the Fraud Section of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division are in charge of the prosecution.

SEC Charges Mexico-Based Homebuilder in $3.3 Billion Accounting Fraud

03/03/2017 09:55 AM EST

The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced that Mexico-based homebuilding company Desarrolladora Homex S.A.B. de C.V. has agreed to settle charges that it reported fake sales of more than 100,000 homes to boost revenues in its financial statements during a three-year period.

The SEC used satellite imagery to help uncover the accounting scheme and illustrate its allegation that Homex had not even broken ground on many of the homes for which it reported revenues.

The SEC alleges that Homex, one of the largest homebuilders in Mexico at the time, inflated the number of homes sold during the three-year period by approximately 317 percent and overstated its revenue by 355 percent (approximately $3.3 billion).  The SEC’s complaint highlights, for example, that Homex reported revenues from a project site in the Mexican state of Guanajuato where every planned home was purportedly built and sold by Dec. 31, 2011.  Satellite images of the project site on March 12, 2012, show it was still largely undeveloped and the vast majority of supposedly sold homes remained unbuilt.

According to the SEC’s complaint, Homex filed for the Mexican equivalent of bankruptcy protection in April 2014 and emerged in October 2015 under new equity ownership.  The company’s then-CEO and then-CFO have been placed on unpaid leave since May 2016.  Homex has since undertaken significant remedial efforts and cooperated with the SEC’s investigation.

“As alleged in our complaint, Homex deprived its investors of accurate and reliable financial results by reporting key numbers that were almost completely made up,” said Stephanie Avakian, Acting Director of the SEC’s Enforcement Division.  “The settlement takes into account that the fraud occurred entirely under the watch of prior ownership and management, the company’s new leaders provided critical information regarding the full scope of the fraudulent conduct, and the company continues to significantly cooperate with our ongoing investigation.”

Melissa Hodgman, Associate Director of the SEC’s Enforcement Division, added, “We used high-resolution satellite imagery and other innovative investigative techniques to unearth that tens of thousands of purportedly built-and-sold homes were, in fact, nothing but bare soil.”

The SEC separately issued a trading suspension in the securities of Homex.

Without admitting or denying the allegations in the SEC’s complaint filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California, Homex consented to the entry of a final judgment permanently enjoining the company from violating the antifraud, reporting, and books and records provisions of the federal securities laws, and the company agreed to be prohibited from offering securities in the U.S. markets for at least five years.  The settlement is subject to court approval.

The SEC’s investigation is being conducted by Alfred C. Tierney, Benjamin D. Brutlag, Andrew M. Shirley, Juan M. Migone and Richard Hong.  The case is being supervised by J. Lee Buck II.  The SEC appreciates the assistance of the Mexican Comisión Nacional Bancaria y de Valores.