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Certificates Of Origin Not Always The Real McCoy

Recent guilty pleas by two U.S. businessmen illustrate the increasing problem of false Certificates of Origin being used obtain illegal trade benefits.

Vahram Aynilian, president of a New Jersey-based textile company, and Fred Lukach of San Diego, both pled guilty to illegally exporting goods from the U.S. to Mexico. The investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement uncovered that Aynilian had sold fraudulent Certificates of Origin and other documents for more than 240 export shipments over a four-year span. Lukach purchased some of the documents.

The certificates were used to claim customs tax benefits accorded by the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Many nations require shipments to have Certificates of Origin in order to determine what taxes or trade agreement benefits apply. A number of countries — particularly those in the Middle East — require the Certificates to be notarized.

The U.S. isn’t the only nation grappling with fraudulent Certificates of Origin. Earlier this year, China announced a nationwide crackdown on counterfeit Certificates and is pushing government offices throughout the country to use an electronic system to manage the Certificates they issue.

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