False Claims Whistleblower Receives $600K in Customs Evasion Case

Customs whistleblower

On March 21st, the U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey, Philip R. Selling, announced a $3.1 million False Claims Act (FCA) settlement against an owner of a New Jersey company. The government had charged the owner with wire fraud and with defrauding U.S. customs by mislabeling chemicals entering the U.S. from China.

The case stems from allegations brought forth by a whistleblower in a qui tam lawsuit. The FCA’s qui tam whistleblower provisions allow individuals to file suit on behalf of the government under seal and receive 15-25% of the total government’s recovery in intervened cases and 25-30% in non-intervened cases. 

The whistleblower, Angel Figueroa, will receive $600,000 of the $3.1 million civil settlement. 

According to the government, from January 2016 through August 2021, George Volpe, the owner of Penta International Inc. (Penta), participated in a scheme that underpaid U.S. Customs duties $1.4 million. Figueroa and the government allege that Penta employees worked with a Chinese vendor to mislabel chemicals and submitted falsified documents to Penta’s customs brokers.

Volpe pled guilty before U.S. District Judge Esther Salas in Newark federal court to wire fraud charges and admitted to mislabeling the hazardous chemicals. Sentencing is scheduled for Aug. 13, 2024.

On July 25, a bipartisan group of senators introduced the False Claims Amendments Act of 2023, which address a few technical loopholes undermining the success of the FCA. The bill is widely supported by whistleblower advocates.

“The False Claims Act is America’s number one fraud-fighting law,” said whistleblower attorney Stephen M. Kohn. “These amendments are urgently needed to ensure that whistleblowers can continue to play their key role in protecting taxpayers from corporate criminals.”

Kohn sees the passage of the False Claims Amendments Act as one of the seven most urgently needed whistleblower reformsNational Whistleblower Center (NWC), where Kohn serves as Chairman of the Board, has issued an Action Alert calling on Congress to pass the bill.

Join NWC in Taking Action:

Demand that Congress strengthen the False Claims Act

Further Reading:

Owner of New Jersey Company Admits to Evading U.S. Customs Duties and His Company Agrees to $3.1 Million Settlement Agreement

Bipartisan Legislation Unveiled to Strengthen False Claims Act

More False Claims Act Whistleblower News

Exit mobile version