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Importer and firm plead guilty in federal court to conspiracy to avoid paying over $1 million in Antidumping and Countervailing Duties  

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico [March 20, 2024] – The U.S. Attorney Office for the District of Puerto Rico announced Tuesday a guilty plea from Kenneth Fleming and Akua Mosaics, Inc. (“Akua Mosaics”) to a conspiracy to smuggle goods to avoid paying anti­dumping duties of approximately 330.69%, countervailing duties of approximately 358.81%, and other duties of approximately 25% which were owed when importing these tiles from Peoples Republic of China to the United States.

Akua Mosaics, a Juncos, Puerto Rico business, and its president, Kenneth Fleming, conspired to defraud the United States by smuggling and clandestinely importing porcelain mosaic tiles manufactured in the People’s Republic of China (PRC), by falsely representing to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) that said merchandise was of Malaysian origin.

The CBP San Juan Field Office and Homeland Security Investigation’s (HSI) San Juan Global Trade Investigations Group (GTIG) partnered in the investigation of this case.

Fleming and Akua Mosaics conspired with Shuyi Mo, a citizen and resident of PRC. Between October 2021 and January 2022, these caused a container with porcelain tiles manufactured in PRC to be shipped from PRC to Malaysia. They caused “Made in Malaysia” labels to be placed on boxes containing porcelain tiles manufactured in PRC and then caused a container with porcelain tiles manufactured in PRC to be shipped from Malaysia to Puerto Rico misrepresenting the country of origin as Malaysia, when in fact, PRC was the country of origin. The total amount of unpaid duties and tariffs on this shipment was approximately $1,090,000.

Mo was arrested on April 29, 2023, in the Northern District of California while attempting to the leave the United States. Mo pleaded guilty on to his participation in the conspiracy and was sentenced on September 1, 2023 to the approximately four month term of imprisonment he had served and was removed from the United States.

Fleming and Akua Mosaics face a maximum penalty of five years in prison, a $250,000 fine, a three-year term of supervised release, and a payment of $1,090,000 in restitution.

A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

Antidumping and Countervailing Duties (AD/CVD) is one of CBP’s Priority Trade Issues. CBP seeks to detect and deter circumvention of the AD/CVD law, to liquidate final duties timely and accurately, while at the same time facilitating legitimate trade.

AD and CVD duties are intended to offset the value of dumping and/or subsidization, thereby leveling the playing field for domestic industries injured by such unfairly traded imports.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the comprehensive management, control, and protection of our nation’s borders, combining customs, immigration, border security, and agricultural protection at and between official ports of entry.

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