True World Fined $60,000 for Mislabeling

True World Foods Chicago, LLC on Tuesday was fined $60,000 for its role in distributing mislabeled frozen fish fillets in violation of the Lacey Act.

The U.S. law prohibits the receipt, acquisition or purchase of fish that was taken, possessed, transported or sold in violation of any federal, state or tribal regulations.

According to the indictment, True World purchased frozen pangasius fillets imported from Vietnam in a series of six transactions between July 2004 and June 2005 from Virginia Star Seafood and International Sea Products, both of Virginia.

The fish was falsely labeled as sole in order to evade an antidumping duty of 63.88 percent. The Catfish Farmers of America filed the antidumping lawsuit in 2002, and tariffs ranging from 37 to 64 percent were placed on Vietnamese exporters.

True World also forfeited $197,930, the value of the fish, and agreed to publish a full-page advertisement regarding the incident in an unnamed seafood industry publication of wide circulation.

Former True World employee David Wong in January pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor violations of the Lacey Act for his part in purchasing and re-selling the frozen fillets of Pangasius hypophthalmus(swai or tra).

Vietnamese companies Binh Dinh, Antesco and Anhaco exported more than 10 million pounds of pangasius by identifying the fish to U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials as other species, including sole, grouper, flounder and conger pike.

The indictment further alleged that, after the Vietnamese catfish was exported to the United States, Henry Nguyen and other salesman for the Virginia companies marketed and sold the catfish to seafood buyers, including Henry Yip of T.P. Co., Wong of True World Foods and David Chu of Dakon International.

Yip entered a guilty plea to a misbranding violation, and T.P. Co. entered a guilty plea to trafficking in illegally imported merchandise on Nov. 28, 2007. In related cases, Agar Supply Co. entered a guilty plea to a misdemeanor violation of the Lacey Act on Nov. 28, 2007.

The case was investigated by special agents of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the National Marine Fisheries Service and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.


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