A federal grand jury has indicted five individuals and three companies for allegedly conspiring to smuggle aluminum products into the United States and money laundering, said Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez, U.S. Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico.
The indictment alleges that Samuel García-Adarme, the owner of Sultana Screens & Aluminum Sales and vice president of Aluwest Industries; Edrick García –Vázquez, the president of PRP Trading Corp; Armando García-Vázquez, the vice president of PRP Trading and the chief financial officer of Sultana Screens & Aluminum Sales; Carlos Minguela-Ortiz, an accountant for Sultana Screens & Aluminum Sales and PRP Trading; and William Tang Piu Wong the owner of AGI Trading Corporation, facilitated the importation of Chinese manufactured goods into United States with the intent to defraud the United States of approximately $26.7 million in lawful antidumping and countervailing duties.
Also allegedly complicit were Sultana Screens & Aluminum Sales, which is located in Mayagüez, and has two additional locations in Caguas and Ponce, P.R., for scheming to import aluminum and manufacturing related products for sale; PRP Trading Corp., which is located in Arecibo, P.R., for importing aluminum; and Aluwest Industries, which is located in Ponce, P.R., for manufactured aluminum products.
“These individuals are charged with defrauding the United States government of tens of millions of dollars in lawfully imposed duties,” Rodríguez-Vélez said in a statement. “We will continue to investigate and prosecute those who engage in corrupt acts which directly affect fair market competition in imported goods,” stated Rodríguez-Vélez.
According to the indictment, the defendants knowingly and willfully combined, conspired, confederated, and agreed with each other to smuggle and clandestinely introduce, or attempt to smuggle or clandestinely introduce, aluminum imported from China by passing false and fraudulent invoices and documents through a CBP customs house.
The investigation was conducted by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Department of Homeland Security and Customs and Border Patrol Import Specialist Branch.
According to the indictment, García-Adarme, Edrick García-Vázquez, Armando García-Vázquez and Carlos Minguela-Ortiz and the owners and/or principals of Sultana Screens & Aluminum Sales, PRP Trading, and Aluwest Industries were assisted by William Tang Piu Wong in purchasing aluminum from China and shipping it to Malaysia before repackaging the aluminum and creating false invoices to make it appear as though the aluminum originated in Malaysia. They then imported the aluminum into Puerto Rico in order to avoid payment of the antidumping and countervailing duties (ADD/CVD).
ADD and CVD are additional duties imposed on goods entering into U.S. commerce for consumption. The imposition of ADD/CVD is a prerogative of the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) to avoid imported merchandise being sold below fair market value. Since November 2010, the Department of Commerce imposed antidumping and countervailing duties on Chinese-origin aluminum, which ranged from 30 – 33 percent of the declared value of the imported aluminum, and 374.15 percent of the declared value of the imported aluminum, respectively. The second count of the indictment charges defendants Edrick and Armando García-Vázquez, Minguela Ortiz and Wong and the three companies of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. The third count charges all defendants with conspiracy to commit money laundering.
The forfeiture allegations include a money judgment of $26,758,437.86 for the unpaid ADD/CVD and a money judgment of $6,907, 985.43 for the money laundering count. The government seeks to obtain real estate properties and bank accounts as substitute assets.
The case is being prosecuted by Senior Litigation Counsel andassistant United States attorney Scott Anderson. If found guilty, the defendants could face a possible sentence of twenty years in prison.