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«gka, P.C. Certified Public Accountants | Management Consultants Treasury Forfeiture Fund ACCOUNTABILITY REPORT Fiscal Year 2010 DEPARTMENT OF THE ...»

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Two New York Importers Convicted in One of the Largest Counterfeit Goods Prosecutions in U.S. History, Infringement Value if Released to Commercial Markets More than $100 Million

Information included in the following forfeiture article is attributed to:

Immigration and Customs Enforcement Press Release, “2 New York importers convicted in one of the largest counterfeit goods prosecutions in U.S. history Infrinted Goods Valued at More than $100 Million” In June 2010, Chong Lam (“Lam”), 52, and Siu Yung Chan (“Chan”), also known as Joyce Chan, 42, both of New York, were convicted for their participation in one of the largest counterfeit luxury goods operations in the United States, following an investigation by ICE. A federal jury in


Richmond, Virginia, found Lam and Chan each guilty on one count of conspiracy to traffic in counterfeit goods imported from the People’s Republic of China (PRC); two counts of trafficking in counterfeit handbags, wallets, purses and carry-on bags, and two counts of illegally smuggling counterfeit goods into the United States.

According to evidence presented at trial, Lam and Chan and their co-conspirators operated a massive international manufacturing, import and wholesale counterfeit goods business. Evidence introduced at trial proved that Lam and Chan were controlling officers of at least 13 different companies in the United States and overseas, and operated at least eight separate factories dedicated to producing handbags, including enormous quantities of counterfeit bags.

According to evidence presented at trial, from 2002 until late 2005, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) seized numerous containers of counterfeit luxury handbags and wallets imported from China. A subsequent ICE investigation, including a review of documents filed with DBP, disclosed that Lam and Chan imported over 300,000 counterfeit luxury handbags and wallets into the United States from the PRC in the names of different companies, all under their control. During the execution of a related search warrant on the defendants’ business address, Coco USA, located in Manhattan, investigators seized approximately 1,500 cartons of alleged infringing items. The total value of the corresponding authentic luxury goods manufactured by Burberry, Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Coach, Fendi, Chanel and others is estimated to be over $100 million. This is the estimated commercial value denied to these legitimate manufacturers if this counterfeit merchandise had gone undetected and reached the commercial districts for sale.

The government is seeking forfeiture of the illicit proceeds of the enterprise including funds that the defendants had transferred to bank accounts in the United States and overseas in the names of companies under their control, as well as three properties in New York. At sentencing, Lam and Chan each face a maximum of five years in prison and $250,000 fine for the conspiracy count, 10 years in prison and a $2 million fine for each trafficking count, and 5 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each smuggling count.

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ICE Agents Return $16,800 to Victim of Telemarketing Fraud

Information included in the following forfeiture article is attributed to:

ICE News Release dated May 20, 2010, “ICE agents return $16,800 to victim of telemarketing fraud.” In May 2010, an Alabama resident received $16,800 from ICE agents following a successful joint investigation against fraudulent telemarketers. The investigation was part of a multi-agency, U.S.Canada initiative called “Project COLT.” Although there are many scam variations, in this case, the callers fraudulently represent themselves as lottery officials. The scammers tell unknowing or elderly victims that they have won the lottery and must pay fees and service charges to be able to collect their fictitious winnings. ICE agents warn that con artists often pose as lawyers, customs officials, police officers or lottery company officials to bilk their victims out of millions of dollars.


The Alabama telemarketing scheme victim, who requested to remain anonymous, submitted a statement to help inform others about how to protect themselves from fraudulent telemarketing offers.

“…The letters and phone calls appeared legitimate as the telemarketers appeared to know a lot of information about me and my family. I never knew how this scheme worked until ICE agents returned a portion of my funds that were seized in the fraudulent telemarketing scheme and educated me on the illegal practices of these telemarketers….”

Alabama Telemarketing Scheme Victim (Anonymous)

Since its inception in 1988, Project COLT has seized and returned more than $25 million to U.S. and Canadian victims of telemarketing fraud. Telemarketing fraud has become one of the most pervasive forms of white-collar crime in Canada and the United States, with annual losses in both countries in the billions of dollars.

ICE Returns pre-Columbian and Mayan Artifacts to El Salvador ICE and CBP Recover pre-Columbian Artifacts in Joint Investgation into Smuggling Ring Selling on E-Bay

Information included in the following forfeiture article is attributed to:

News Release dated May 12, 2010, “ICE, CBP and El Salvador celebrate recovery of pre-Columbian artifacts in joint investigation into smuggling ring selling on E-Bay.” On May 12, 2010, the Embassy of El Salvador, Washington, D.C., was the scene of the return of dozens of pre-Columbian and Mayan artifacts that were seized in the first joint concurrent investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the National Civilian Police of El Salvador into an international smuggling ring that was selling these antiquities on the Internet.

Figure 6 Among the Antiquities Returned to El Salvador


ICE officials presented dozens of cultural items to Ambassador Francisco Alschul in a ceremony that was streamed live in video to the Salvadoran Foreign Ministry in San Salvador where other pieces seized in the Salvadoran investigation were on display. The items were all pre-Columbian, many of them Mayan, and are forbidden for export except with the express permission of the Secretariat of Culture.

This joint investigation began three years ago when a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agent at a Miami mail facility noticed what appeared to be pre-Columbian artifacts coming into the United States through the mail and destined for Alabama. ICE began an investigation that would involve the ICE attaché in El Salvador, the Salvadoran national Civilian Police and the ICE Cyber Crimes Center as well as ICE agents in Miami, Atlanta, Tampa and St. Paul, and CBP officers in Miami.

Also returned at the ceremony were pre-Columbian items recovered in a separate ICE investigation in Denver involving a consignment store and online sales. El Salvador arrested and prosecuted a man and wife who were advertising Mayan and pre-Columbian artifacts on electronic sales sites and selling to customers around the world. There were no Mayan antiquities registered to their names, as required by Salvadoran law. All of the items seized in this investigation are covered by the export restrictions put in place in 1995 by El Salvador under a Memorandum of Agreement with the U.S.

Department of State that is designed to curb the pillage of the El Salvador’s heritage.

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ICE uses investigative authority to seize cultural property, art and antiquities if they are illegally imported into the United States. It also investigates the illegal trafficking of artwork, especially works that have been reported lost or stolen. ICE’s Office of International Affairs, through its 63 attaché offices worldwide, works closely with foreign governments to conduct joint investigations.

Joint ICE/CBP Investigation Results in $19 Million Settlement in Case of Stolen Painting The Portrait of Wally Joint ICE/CBP Investigation (Legacy Customs) Results in $19 Million Settlement in the Case of the Stolen Portrait of Wally

Information included in the following forfeiture article is attributed to:

Department of Justice News Release, Southern District of new York, dated July 20, 2010, “United States Announces $19 Million Settlement in Case of painting Stolen by Nazi” In July 2010, ICE announced a settlement agreement with the Leopold Museum Privat-Stiftung (the “Foundation”) and Lea Bondi Jaray’s estate (the “Estate”) to resolve the civil forfeiture action against Portrait of Wally (“Wally”), an oil painting by Egon Schiele that a Nazi stole from a Jewish woman


in 1939. According to the terms of the settlement agreement, the Leopold Museum will pay the Estate $19 million in exchange for the painting.

Egon Schiele painted Wally in 1912. The painting depicts Valerie Neuzil, Schiele’s primary model and his lover from about 1911 until he married Edith Anna Harms in 1915. In the decades following World War II, Schiele became one of the most prominent Austrian artists of the twentieth century.

Bondi, an Austrian Jew and owner of an art gallery, the Wűrthle Gallery, in Vienna, acquired Wally some time before 1925.

Figure 7 Portrait of Wally, painted by Egon Schiele in 1912

In March of 1938, in what is known as the Anschluss, German troops occupied Austria and annexed it to Germany. Pursuant to German Aryanization laws prohibiting Jews from owning businesses, the Wűrthle Gallery was designated “non-Aryan” and subject to confiscation. Bondi thereafter sold the Wűrthle Gallery to a Nazi art collector named Friedrich Welz. In 1939, on the eve of Bondi’s escape to England, Welz went to Bondi’s apartment to discuss the gallery. He saw Wally hanging on the wall and demanded that Bondi give it to him. She resisted, as Wally was part of her private collection and had never been part of the Wűrthle Gallery. Bondi ultimately relented at the behest of her husband who reminded her that they intended to flee Austria and that Welz could prevent their escape.

After the war, United States military forces in Austria arrested Welz and seized Wally and other artworks. These artworks were transferred to the Austrian Government, in accordance with the policy and practice of the United States military to return property seized from Nazis to the


governments of the countries of origin. Wally was ultimately delivered to the government-owned Austrian National Gallery in the Belvedere Palace.

In 1953, Dr. Rudolph Leopold, An Austrian collector of artwork by Schiele, visited Bondi during a trip to London. During this visit, Bondi told Leopold that the painting belonged to her and asked him to go to the Belvedere and recover it on her behalf. Leopold agreed to help her. Instead of helping Bondi recover her painting, however, Leopold entered into an agreement with the Belvedere whereby he exchanged a Schiele painting from his own collection for Wally. When Bondi later discovered that Leopold had acquired Wally for himself, she retained lawyers to attempt to convince Leopold to return the painting to her, to no avail. Bondi continued to fight to recover her beloved painting until her death in 1969.

In 1994, Leopold’s art collection, including Wally, became part of the newly-formed Leopold Museum. In 1997, the Leopold Museum loaned part of its Schiele collection, including Wally, to New York’s Museum of Modern Art. Wally was shipped to New York in September 1997.

On September 21, 1999, United States Magistrate Judge James C. Francis IV issued a federal seizure warrant for Wally based upon a finding of probable cause that the painting was stolen property imported into the United States in violation of federal law. Pursuant to the warrant, the United States Customs Service (“legacy Customs,” now ICE and CBP) seized the painting. The next day, the United States commenced a civil action in order to forfeit Wally and return it to its rightful owner, Bondi’s estate. The United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of new York filed a civil Complaint in Manhattan federal court and alleged that Wally was forfeitable as stolen property knowingly imported into, and about to be exported from, the United States in violation of the National Stolen Property Act, 18 U.S.C. § 2314. The Estate, the Leopold Museum, and New York’s Museum of Modern Art filed claims to the painting in the forfeiture proceeding. During the litigation, the Leopold Museum maintained that Welz did not steal the painting and that Leopold did not know it was stolen property when it was imported into the United States.

"More than 70 years after Portrait of Wally was stolen, today’s settlement marks another small step towards justice for victims of property crimes during WWII. Lea Bondi Jaray and her family were steadfast in their long battle to restore their rightful ownership of Portrait of Wally. Their determination provides hope for others who lost precious property and art to Nazi theft…” Preet Bharara, United States Attorney Southern District of New York On September 30, 2009, United States District Judge Loretta A. Preska issued a 109-page decision on the parties’ summary judgment motions. The Court rejected the Leopold Museum’s position that Wally was not stolen property, and concluded that the painting was Bondi’s personal property, that Welz had stolen it, and that the property remained stolen when it was imported into the United States.

The Court further ruled that the government had made a probable cause showing that Leopold knew Wally was stolen property when it was imported into the United States. Thus, the only issue to be resolved at trial was whether the Leopold Museum could overcome the government’s evidence and provide that Leopold did not know that Wally was stolen property when it was imported into the United States. The Court scheduled a trial for July 26, 2010, to decide this single issue.


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