U.S. Government Sues Univar U.S.A. for Retroactive Antidumping Duties
and Penalties for Misrepresenting Country of Origin

September 10, 2015

On August 6, 2015, the U.S. Government filed suit in the U.S. Court of International Trade (CIT) for approximately $36 million worth of antidumping duties and for a civil penalty in the amount of $47.8 million. The facts in this case related to an alleged transshipment of saccharin from China through Taiwan and thereafter entry into the U.S. in thirty-six entries at various ports. Univar U.S.A., according to the U.S. complaint, is the leading chemical distributor in the United States and provides more chemical products and related services than any other company in the market place.

Prior to this lawsuit being initiated, Customs had initially advised Univar that it was under investigation for a potential violation under 19 U.S.C. §1592. Subsequently, Customs issued a pre-penalty notice, with a proposed penalty against Univar in the amount of $47,888,851.00 plus loss of revenue of $36,088,718.03 pursuant to 19 U.S.C. §1592. The degree of culpability alleged was gross negligence, with an alternative claim of ordinary negligence. Univar responded to this pre-penalty notice, but despite Univar’s arguments, Customs issued a penalty notice with the same demands. Univar filed a petition for mitigation, but the penalty and loss of revenue demands remained the same.

The government’s complaint with the CIT alleges that none of the antidumping or penalties demanded in the amended penalty notice have been paid. The penalty is being pursued because the government claims that Univar acted with reckless disregard for the truth when it misrepresented the country of origin as Taiwan on Customs entry documents when in fact the saccharin was from China.

Univar will have sixty days to file an answer to the government’s allegations. Because of the severity of the claims and the amounts involved, we anticipate that there will be substantial discovery (interrogatories and depositions) in this case and that the litigation will take some time to resolve.

The case should be a warning to importers to verify claims that merchandise from China subject to antidumping orders is not being transshipped through another country when imported into the United States.  

Please contact Stephen S. Spraitzar at steve.spraitzar@tuttlelaw.com or (415) 986-8780 if you have questions or would like additional information on this or other Customs matters. 

Stephen S. Spraitzar is an attorney with the Law Offices of George R. Tuttle in San Francisco.


The information in this article is general in nature, and is not intended to constitute legal advice or to create an attorney-client relationship with respect to any event or occurrence, and may not be considered as such.


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