Importers of chain saw chains and blades TriLink Saw Chain, LLC and TriLink Global, LLC (TriLink) will pay $525,000 to settle allegations that they violated the False Claims Act. The civil matter stems from a whistleblower lawsuit, and the whistleblower will receive a portion of the U.S. government’s recovery in the matter.
TriLink imports chain saw chains and blades that are “manufactured in China and intended for sale in the United States,” the Department of Justice (DOJ) press release states. The U.S. alleged “that from September 24, 2018, through June 10, 2019, TriLink classified imported chain saw chains and blades under inappropriate subheadings of the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States.” The government alleged that this misclassification “resulted in nonpayment of applicable tariffs due and owing to the United States pursuant to Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974.”
Per the settlement agreement, the whistleblower that brought the qui tam case will receive part of the sum that the government recovers. The press release did not state the total that the whistleblower will be receiving. Under the qui tam provisions of the False Claims Act, private citizens to file lawsuits on behalf of the government if they know of an individual or company defrauding the government. Qui tam whistleblowers are eligible to receive between 15 and 30% of the government’s recovery, if one occurs. The government also has the option to intervene in qui tam lawsuits.
“False classification of imported goods deprives the United States of tariffs that are due and owing under the law and results in unfair competition against law-abiding companies,” said Timothy Duax, Acting United States Attorney for the Northern District of Iowa, in the press release. “We will continue to work with our federal partners to hold importers accountable to ensure that they do not avoid payment to the United States.”