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U.S. Government Joins Constantine Cannon Case Brought By U.K. Whistleblower against British Retailer for Customs Fraud

Posted  September 8, 2017

By the C|C Whistleblower Lawyer Team

Constantine Cannon LLP is pleased to announce that the U.S. Government has intervened in its client’s whistleblower case against Pure Collection Ltd., a Harrogate, England-based e-retailer of luxury cashmere and apparel. The Government also brought claims against Pure’s current acting CEO, Samantha Harrison. The whistleblower lawsuit, among one of the first whistleblower cases brought in the U.S. by a U.K. citizen that the Government has joined, alleges that Pure Collection fraudulently evaded the payment of duties to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), giving itself an unfair advantage among U.S. and foreign retailers, while allegedly saving millions of dollars and boosting its own profits.

The complaint, brought by British whistleblower Andrew Patrick of Harrogate, England, alleges that beginning in at least 2010, Pure Collection purposefully avoided paying U.S. customs duties on retail orders worth more than $200 that it shipped to U.S. customers. To attract more U.S.-based customers, Pure Collection advertised on its website “we do our utmost to prevent customs fees,” and even reimbursed customers for any customs fees they incurred in the instances where Pure’s evasion efforts failed. The whistleblower, U.K. citizen Andrew Patrick, 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 was trained to systematically split customers’ large orders to successfully avoid paying U.S. customs fees, saving the company millions of dollars, according to the whistleblower suit.

Mr. Patrick originally brought his allegations to the CBP’s attention in 2014 and provided documents to the U.S. Embassy. He later filed a whistleblower submission with the U.S. Internal Revenue Service in 2015. After these three attempts to alert U.S. authorities were unsuccessful, Mr. Patrick approached Richard Pike, a solicitor-advocate and partner in Constantine Cannon’s London office, who specializes in advising whistleblowers under the American whistleblower programs. After retaining Constantine Cannon, Mr. Patrick filed his whistleblower suit in 2016 in federal court in Maine.

“Pure arrogantly decided it didn’t need to play by the same rules as other retailers, and placed its own interests in profits and access to the U.S. market above the laws of the U.S. government,” said Molly Knobler, an associate in Constantine Cannon’s Washington, D.C. office. “The government’s intervention in Mr. Patrick’s case sends a clear message that this behavior will not be tolerated.” PR Newswire

Tagged in: Customs Fraud, FCA Federal, International Whistleblowers, Whistleblower Case,