19 U.S.C. § 1592 - Penalties for fraud, gross negligence, and negligence

Cite as:19 U.S.C. § 1592
Currency:Current through P.L. 116-21 (6/12/2019)
 
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(a) Prohibition

(1) General rule

Without regard to whether the United States is or may be deprived of all or a portion of any lawful duty, tax, or fee thereby, no person, by fraud, gross negligence, or negligence-

(A) may enter, introduce, or attempt to enter or introduce any merchandise into the commerce of the United States by means of-

(i) any document or electronically transmitted data or information, written or oral statement, or act which is material and false, or

(ii) any omission which is material, or

(B) may aid or abet any other person to violate subparagraph (A).

(2) Exception

Clerical errors or mistakes of fact are not violations of paragraph (1) unless they are part of a pattern of negligent conduct. The mere nonintentional repetition by an electronic system of an initial clerical error does not constitute a pattern of negligent conduct.

(b) Procedures

(1) Pre-penalty notice

(A) In general

If the Customs Service has reasonable cause to believe that there has been a violation of subsection (a) and determines that further proceedings are warranted, it shall issue to the person concerned a written notice of its intention to issue a claim for a monetary penalty. Such notice shall-

(i) describe the merchandise;

(ii) set forth the details of the entry or introduction, the attempted entry or introduction, or the aiding or procuring of the entry or introduction;

(iii) specify all laws and regulations allegedly violated;

(iv) disclose all the material facts which establish the alleged violation;

(v) state whether the alleged violation occurred as a result of fraud, gross negligence, or negligence;

(vi) state the estimated loss of lawful duties, taxes, and fees, if any, and, taking into account all circumstances, the amount of the proposed monetary penalty; and

(vii) inform such person that he shall have a reasonable opportunity to make representations, both oral and written, as to why a claim for a monetary penalty should not be issued in the amount stated.

(B) Exceptions

The preceding subparagraph shall not apply if-

(i) the importation with respect to which the violation of subsection (a) occurs is noncommercial in nature, or

(ii) the amount of the penalty in the penalty claim issued under paragraph (2) is $1,000 or less.

(2) Penalty claim

After considering representations, if any, made by the person concerned pursuant to the notice issued under paragraph (1), the Customs Service shall determine whether any violation of subsection (a), as alleged in the notice, has occurred. If the Customs Service determines that there was no violation, it shall promptly issue a written statement of the determination to the person to whom the notice was sent. If the Customs Service determines that there was a violation, it shall issue a written penalty claim to such person. The written penalty claim shall specify all changes in the information provided under clauses (i) through (vi) of paragraph (1)(A). Such person shall have a reasonable opportunity under section 1618 of this title to make representations, both oral and written, seeking remission or mitigation of the monetary penalty. At the conclusion of any proceeding under such section 1618, the Customs Service shall provide to the person concerned a written statement which sets forth the final determination and the findings of fact and conclusions of law on which such determination is based.

(c) Maximum penalties

(1) Fraud

A fraudulent violation of subsection (a) is punishable by a civil penalty in an amount not to exceed the domestic value of the merchandise.

(2) Gross negligence

A grossly negligent violation of subsection (a) is punishable by a civil penalty in an amount not to exceed-

(A) the lesser of-

(i) the domestic value of the merchandise, or

(ii) four times the lawful duties, taxes, and fees of which the United States is or may be deprived, or

(B) if the violation did not affect the assessment of duties, 40 percent of the dutiable value of the merchandise.

(3) Negligence

A negligent violation of subsection (a) is punishable by a civil penalty in an amount not to exceed-

(A) the lesser of-

(i) the domestic value of the merchandise, or

(ii) two times the lawful duties, taxes, and fees of which the United States is or may be deprived, or

(B) if the violation did not affect the assessment of duties, 20 percent of the dutiable value of the merchandise.

(4) Prior disclosure

If the person concerned discloses the circumstances of a violation of subsection (a) before, or without knowledge of, the commencement of a formal investigation of such violation, with respect to such violation, merchandise shall not be seized and any monetary penalty to be assessed under subsection (c) shall not exceed-

(A) if the violation resulted from fraud-

(i) an amount equal to 100 percent of the lawful duties, taxes, and fees of which the United States is or may be deprived, so long as such person tenders the unpaid amount of the lawful duties, taxes, and fees at the time of disclosure, or within 30 days (or such longer period as the Customs Service may provide) after notice by the Customs Service of its calculation of such unpaid amount, or

(ii) if such violation did not affect the assessment of duties, 10 percent of the dutiable value; or

(B) if such violation resulted from negligence or gross negligence, the interest (computed from the date of liquidation at the prevailing rate of interest applied under section 6621 of title 26) on the amount of lawful duties, taxes, and fees of which the United States is or may be deprived so long as such person tenders the unpaid amount of the lawful duties, taxes, and fees at the time of disclosure, or within 30 days (or such longer period as the Customs Service may provide) after notice by the Customs Service of its calculation of such unpaid amount.

The person asserting lack of knowledge of the commencement of a formal investigation has the burden of proof in establishing such lack of knowledge. For purposes of this section, a formal investigation of a violation is considered to be commenced with regard to the disclosing party and the disclosed information on the date recorded in writing by the Customs Service as the date on which facts and circumstances were discovered or information was received which caused the Customs Service to believe that a possibility of a violation of subsection (a) existed.

(5) Prior disclosure regarding NAFTA claims

An importer shall not be subject to penalties under subsection (a) for making an incorrect claim for preferential tariff treatment under section 3332 of this title if the importer-

(A) has reason to believe that the NAFTA Certificate of Origin (as defined in section 1508(b)(1) of this title) on which the claim was based contains incorrect information; and

(B) in accordance with regulations issued by the Secretary, voluntarily and promptly makes a corrected declaration and pays any duties owing.

(6) Prior disclosure regarding claims under the United States-Chile Free Trade Agreement

An importer shall not be subject to penalties under subsection (a) for making an incorrect claim that a good qualifies as an originating good under section 202 of the United States-Chile Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act if the importer, in accordance with regulations issued by the Secretary of the Treasury, voluntarily makes a corrected declaration and pays any duties owing.

(7) Prior disclosure regarding claims under the United States-Singapore Free Trade Agreement

(A) An importer shall not be subject to penalties under subsection (a) for making an incorrect claim that a good qualifies as an originating good under section 202 of the United States-Singapore Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act if the importer, in accordance with regulations issued by the Secretary of the Treasury, voluntarily and promptly makes a corrected declaration and pays any duties owing.

(B) In the regulations referred to in subparagraph (A), the Secretary of the Treasury is authorized to prescribe time periods for making a corrected declaration and paying duties owing under subparagraph (A), if such periods are not shorter than 1 year following the date on which the importer makes the incorrect claim that a good qualifies as an originating good.

(8) Prior disclosure regarding claims under the United States-Australia free trade agreement

(A) In general

An importer shall not be subject to penalties under subsection (a) for making an incorrect claim that a good qualifies as an originating good under section 203 of the United States-Australia Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act if the importer, in accordance with regulations issued by the Secretary of the Treasury, voluntarily and promptly makes a corrected declaration and pays any duties owing.

(B) Time periods for making corrections

In the regulations referred to in subparagraph (A), the Secretary of the Treasury is authorized to prescribe time periods for making a corrected declaration and paying duties owing under subparagraph (A), if such periods are not shorter than 1 year following the date on which the importer makes the incorrect claim.

(9) Prior disclosure regarding claims under the Dominican Republic-Central America-United States Free Trade Agreement

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