On August 31, 2011, the Manhattan US Attorney’s Office announced that the United States had filed and simultaneously settled a civil customs fraud lawsuit against Noble Jewelry Limited, an international jewelry company based in Hong Kong, and its related New York State corporations. The qui tam lawsuit was filed under the False Claims Act by a whistleblower who learned about the company’s fraudulent conduct. The Manhattan US Attorney’s Office and the Office of US Immigrations and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations conducted an extensive investigation into the whistleblower’s complaint and subsequently intervened in the case. The whistleblower will receive approximately 19 percent of the 3.85 million dollar settlement as a reward for disclosing Noble Jewelry’s fraudulent activity.
The complaint alleged that Noble Jewelry used fake invoices to cheat the United States out of more than $1 million in customs duties over the course of a decade. As part of the settlement, the company acknowledged that between 1998 and 2010 it repeatedly submitted false customs declarations that understated the value of the goods being imported, maintained separate invoices reflecting the goods’ correct value, actively tried to avoid detection, and deprived the Government of thousands of dollars in customs duties.