Contributing Lawyers

Canada

Cyndee Todgham Cherniak

United States

Susan Kohn Ross

Australia

Andrew Hudson



Exporter Caught - Just How Smart Was He?

Donald Hatch entered into a plea agreement for export violations involving night vision equipment. Why question his intelligence? Well, first the company's website os reported to state that all shipments are made as gifts and are tax and VAT free! Second, the Office Manager handled the export documents. She was trained and instructed to declare all shipments as worth $100 and NLR (no license required). Okay, so not the smartest thing in the world to do. What about not changing your practices after being visited by an agent from Commerce's Bureau of Industry and Security Office of Export Enforcement? The Office Manager received an industry outreach visit in 2002, but things stayed the same.

 

Despite this background, the focus of the criminal case is the fact that Hatch's company was notified in writing that its night vision equipment was subject to a State export license and it should cease making such export sales until it has the necessary license. Perhaps this is not too surprising, but the letter was addressed to someone other than Donald Hatch and there was no evidence submitted that he ever saw the letter or knew of its existence!

 

Mr. Hatch agreed to plead to 18 USC 1001 which is making false statements to a government official, in this case Commerce, during an investigation. So, watch out what you say and do because often it is not the mistake that causes the problem but how you handle it.

 

Thanks to our colleague Clif Burns for bringing this case to our attention.

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