HOUSTON – Authorities have named 14 people and 1 company connected to a massive, decade-long fraud scheme involving tires from China, according to a release.
Zheng “Miranda” Zhou, 53, of Missouri City, and Kun “Bruce” Liu, 40, of Sugar Land, were named yesterday in connection with the fraud. A California resident and five Chinese residents were also charged in connection with the crime and have outstanding warrants for their arrest.
A civil complaint related to the criminal indictment was also filed against six other individuals and Houston-based company, Winland International Inc., dba Super Tire Inc., according to the release.
The legal documents said the group “conspired to avoid anti-dumping duties associated with off-the-road (OTR) and light vehicle and truck (LVT) tires from China,” according to the release.
“Working through and with Winland, individuals allegedly imported OTR and LVT tires from companies that were subject to anti-dumping duties associated with Chinese tire manufacturers who had engaged in unfair trade practices in the United States,” the release showed.
Those individuals based in the U.S. worked with those based in China to falsify invoiced and entry records for Chinese companies that were “subject to a lower duty rate than the actual manufacturers of these tires,” according to documents.
The falsified documents were given to U.S. Customs and used to import tires into the country so Winland would not have to pay higher duty rates, according to the records. According to legal records, the documents were also used to understate the value of the tires, making the duty rate for Winland even lower.
Records show the fraud continued for more than a decade and the value of the tires exceeded $20.9 million, which deprived the U.S. of over $6.5 million in import duties.
“China and its industries want to rob, replicate and replace American made good and technology,” said U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Patrick. “Illegally importing and dumping these goods is one way to systemically weaken American competitors. Whether direct espionage by the Chinese government or trade fraud like in this case, we will continue to investigate and prosecute every case we can.”