While Volkswagen AG has settled charges with the U.S. government by paying over $4 billion in fines, six VW executives are being criminally charged for their role in the affair. While five of the execs are outside of the U.S. at this time one exec was arrested in Florida and is now in Federal custody.
The charges against VW involved an attempt to defraud the U.S. government and the executives were charged for their failure to timely report the conspiracy to government officials. These executives face possible prison sentences and fines if found guilty.
So how does this case impact you? It's important to note that the U.S. Department of Justice has "pierced the veil" of corporate protection and has targeted individuals who work for a corporation that violates U.S. laws, rules and regulations including those that govern import trade. If you are a member of the corporate management team and your company violates the law you could personally be held liable for those violations, depending on the role you may have played. Even parties who are innocent may be forced to face the high costs of hiring an attorney to defend themselves from charges.
The new Administration has promised to continue pressing for greater enforcement of all U.S. trade laws and even more companies may find themselves being investigated for violations, even if those violations were the result of an oversight. While companies that company fraud face the harshest penalties even those who break the rules do to human error can face penalties as well.
Every company involved in importing products into the U.S. should step back and take a look at their policies and procedures to help ensure that they are in compliance. Ignorance of the law is not a valid excuse; Customs expects every importer (big or small) to exercise reasonable care and due diligence in all their import transactions. Now is the time to act!
TradeLogic International is here to help. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for a free phone consultation. Let us put our knowledge and experience to work for you and help you take the necessary steps to protect yourself from the penalties of non-compliance.