by Ben Vernia | December 17th, 2012
On December 17, the Department of Justice announced Toyo Ink SC Holdings Co. Ltd and its U.S.-based affiliates will pay $45 million to settle claims that the Company violated the False Claims Act by evading customs duties for its products. According to DOJ’s press release:
Japan-based Toyo Ink SC Holdings Co. Ltd. and various affiliated entities (collectively, Toyo Ink) have agreed to pay $45 million, plus interest, to settle allegations that they violated the False Claims Act by knowingly failing to pay antidumping and countervailing duties, the Justice Department announced today.
Toyo Ink, which has operations worldwide, is a leading provider of printing inks. The Toyo Ink parties to the agreement are the Japanese companies Toyo Ink SC Holdings Co. Ltd. (successor in interest to Toyo Ink Manufacturing Co. Ltd.), Toyocolor Co. Ltd., Toyo Ink Co. Ltd. and Toyochem Co. Ltd., and their United States affiliates Toyo Ink Mfg. America LLC (located in New Jersey), Toyo Ink International Corp. (located in New Jersey), and Toyo Ink America LLC (located in Illinois).
The Department of Commerce assesses antidumping and countervailing duties to protect United States businesses by offsetting unfair foreign pricing and government subsidies. The duties are collected by U.S. Customs, which is an agency of the Department of Homeland Security. Import duties may vary depending on a product’s country of origin, which is identified by determining the last country in which the product underwent a substantial transformation. The government alleged that Toyo Ink knowingly misrepresented, or caused to be misrepresented, the country of origin on documents presented to U.S. Customs and Border Protection to avoid paying duties, particularly antidumping and countervailing duties, on imports of the colorant carbazole violet pigment number 23 (CVP-23) between April 2002 and March 2010.
Specifically, the government alleged that Toyo Ink misrepresented Japan and Mexico as the countries of origin for its CVP-23 imports, rather than the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and India which were the company’s sources for raw CVP-23. Imports of CVP-23 from the PRC and India have been subject to these duties since 2004; there are no such duties on imports from Japan or Mexico. Although Toyo Ink’s CVP-23 from the PRC and India underwent a finishing process in Japan and Mexico before it was imported into the United States, the government alleged that this process was insufficient to constitute a substantial transformation to render these countries as the countries of origin.
DOJ also announced that the case was initiated as a qui tam suit, brought by the president of a competitor of Toyo Ink, who will receive $7.875 million of the settlement (a 17.5% relator’s share).