Home » Company Charged For Fraud Also Indulged In Forging Halal Certificates

Company Charged For Fraud Also Indulged In Forging Halal Certificates

News From : DagangHalal.com (22 Nov 2010)

HOUSTON, Nov. 22, 2010 (Halal.com) — . American Grocers, Inc. and its owner Samir Itani have agreed to pay $13.2 million to settle civil charges that they engaged in false or fraudulent conduct by shipping food products past or near their expiration dates to United States troops stationed in the Middle East. The fraudulent conduct also involved forging Halal certificates required by countries such as Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. Imports of food products into certain countries require certification that they meet appropriate requirements for Muslim religious slaughter. The complaint alleges that, instead of procuring proper certification, Mr. Itani obtained fake Halal certificates created by a sheik that never inspected the product. Further, the complaint alleges, Mr. Itani eventually bypassed even the sheik’s fees by duplicating the sheik’s certificate and forging Halal certification within his company. According to the complaint, Mr. Itani’s extensive efforts to cheat the government included the creation of two sets of invoices. Mr. Itani would send the “real” invoice, which included correct product descriptions and costs, to the bank to secure payment. Mr. Itani would send what he referred to as the “fake” invoice, with significantly lower stated amounts, to the customer for presentation to customs officials in order to lower the amount of customs and duties owed. As a result of this practice, the complaint alleges, Mr. Itani was able to secure and keep customers. The settlement was reached more than five years after Delma Pallares’ lawsuit against American Grocers, Inc. brought to light the illegal conduct. Pallares, represented by the law firm of Berg & Androphy, brought her lawsuit, also known as a qui tam action, under the Civil False Claims Act in the Southern District of Texas. The qui tam statute allows a private person to sue a person or company who is knowingly submitting false bills to the federal government. The U.S. Government intervened in the case in November 2010.

– Halal.com

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