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Centric Parts – Customs Fraud ($8 million)

In a customs fraud victory, the Constantine Cannon team represented whistleblower Steve Hughes in his successful False Claims Act action against his former employer, auto parts distributor CWD, LLC.  Hughes alleged that CWD, which does business as Centric Parts, misclassified brake pads imported from Asia as “unmounted” brake pads when they were, in fact, brake pads mounted to a metal backing plate, and therefor subject to a 2.5% tariff.  When Hughes learned of the misclassification, he immediately advised the CEO and CFO to disclose the issue to U.S. Customs and Border Protection.  Instead, the company concealed the misclassification and retaliated against Hughes.  As a result of Centric’s alleged omissions and false statements regarding its imported products, the company knowingly evaded millions of dollars of customs duties it owed to the United States.  The $8 million settlement resolved the Hughes lawsuit and one other qui tam action filed by a different whistleblower.  The whistleblowers shared a $1.48 million whistleblower award, representing 18.5% of the government’s recovery.  Whistleblower Insider; Press release

Unitrans International Inc., Anham FZCO, et al. — Government Contract Fraud ($45 million)

Our attorneys represented Rory Maxwell, John Bush, and Supreme Foodservice GmbH in a qui tam action under the False Claims Act against Unitrans International Inc., a privately held Virginia defense contracting company, and Anham FZCO, an associated Dubai Free Zone company, for making false certifications of compliance with the U.S. sanctions regime against Iran to induce the U.S. Defense Logistics Agency and the U.S. Army to award Anham wartime contracts to provide food and transportation to U.S. troops.  Our whistleblower clients also alleged Anham knowingly and falsely represented construction progress on its Bagram warehouse in related bid proposals to the government.  In December 2019, Unitrans agreed to pay $45 million to resolve criminal and civil allegations related to this alleged misconduct, which includes $27 million to resolve our whistleblower clients’ False Claims Act allegations.  Read more about the case at the Department of Justice website here and in The Washington Post here.

Pure Collection – Customs Fraud ($908,100)

Constantine Cannon represented whistleblower Andrew Patrick, who worked for Pure Collection from 2010 to 2014, first as a sales representative in its U.K. call center and then in its U.K. packaging department. Mr. Patrick’s qui tam, or whistleblower, lawsuit alleged that since 2007 the defendants fraudulently and systematically avoided paying U.S. customs duties on its goods shipped from the United Kingdom to customers in the United States. Pure Collection and the e-retailer’s acting CEO, Samantha Harrison, have collectively agreed to a settlement of $908,100 to the U.S. Government. This lawsuit was one of the first to be brought by a U.K. whistleblower in which the U.S. Government intervened and successfully resolved the whistleblower’s False Claims Act allegations. Mr. Patrick will be awarded 18 percent of the total settlement.