L.A. clothing importer admits to skirting $6.4 million in tariffs

A Los Angeles County clothing brand has agreed to plead guilty to filing fake customs forms to evade nearly $6.4 million in tariffs and to doing business with a woman who has ties to the drug cartel of Sinaloa has, federal prosecutors said Tuesday.

Ghacham Inc. and a company executive, Mohamed Daoud Ghacham, 38, will both plead guilty to conspiracy to get false and fraudulent paperwork through customs, according to the US Attorney for the Central District of California.

Ghacham, who managed Paramount’s international business affairs, submitted false documents undervaluing clothing imported by the company, which allowed it to avoid paying the full amount of duties owed, according to court documents. Chinese suppliers provided Ghacham with two invoices at his request: one showing the correct amount Ghacham Inc. had paid for the goods the company held on its books, and a second invoice showing a lower price.

Over a 10-year period, imported items were undervalued by more than $32 million and Ghacham and his company, which sold clothes under the Platini brand name, avoided paying nearly $6.4 million in customs duties , prosecutors said.

Ghacham Inc. also agreed to plead guilty to one charge of conspiracy under the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act. The company admitted doing business with Maria Tiburcia Cázares Pérez, the sister of Sinaloa cartel figure Victor Emilio Cázares Salazar, who was sentenced to 15 years in prison in 2016 for shipping tons of cocaine to Mexico from producers in Colombia and Venezuela and the Drugs had been distributed in the United States.

Cázares Pérez has been classified as a drug trafficker and subject to economic sanctions under the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act, which prohibits individuals and companies in the United States from doing business with those on the list.

In 2006, Cázares Pérez and Ghacham Inc. formed a joint venture called Platini Jeans Cougar De Mexico Sociedad de Responsabilidad Limitada de Capital Variable, or Platini Mexico, according to prosecutors. Although agents briefed the president of Ghacham Inc. on federal law banning the business venture the next year, prosecutors said the professional relationship lasted through February 2021.

With their guilty pleas, Ghacham Inc. faces a maximum statutory fine of $10.5 million and five years probation, and Mohamed Ghacham faces up to five years in federal prison.

Ghacham Inc. did not respond to an email seeking comment.

https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2022-09-20/los-angeles-clothing-importer-admits-to-skirting-customs-tariffs L.A. clothing importer admits to skirting $6.4 million in tariffs

Alley Einstein

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