On May 9, the U.S. government filed suit in the Court of International Trade to recover nearly $1 million in lost duties, penalties, and interest against Country Flavor Corp., a seafood importer located in El Monte, California and the issuer of Country Flavor’s surety bonds, International Fidelity Insurance Company (United States v. Country Flavor Corp., Court No. 11-00138).
The Government’s suit relates to 13 entries of imported fish fillets from Vietnam in May and June of 2006. As described in the Government’s complaint, Country Flavor entered the merchandise described as “broadhead” and declared that these fillets were not subject to the antidumping duty order on pangasius fish fillets from Vietnam. A U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) laboratory in Long Beach, California conducted genetic tests on samples taken from each of the 13 entries and determined that the fish fillets had been falsely described. The genetic tests identified the fish species as pangasius and the imports were determined to be subject to antidumping duties.
CBP demanded that Country Flavor pay antidumping duties at a rate of 63.88% for 11 of the 13 entries. Country Flavor failed to make any duty payments and, instead, dissolved operations. In lieu of being able to recover any duties or penalties from Country Flavor, the Government is seeking to recover over $268,000 of the $1 million claimed owed from Country Flavor’s surety based on continuous entry bonds and single transaction bonds issued by International Fidelity.
The Government’s complaint describes Country Flavor as an “experienced seafood importer” and commercial shipment data support that characterization. Country Flavor imported a wide range of seafood products, including shrimp, from Vietnam and China through May of 2007. The company began importing “broadhead” fish fillets in October of 2005 and according to ship manifest data had brought in over 1.6 million pounds of “broadhead” fillets prior to its May 2006 entries. Ship manifest data also indicates that Country Flavor began to import pangasius fish fillets claimed to be from Cambodia following the imposition of antidumping duties on pangasius fish fillets from Vietnam in August of 2003.