U.S. seizes $25 million worth of aluminum linked to Chinese billionaire
Friday, January 13, 2017
In another stunning revelation in the long and convoluted story of the aluminum hoard found in the Mexican desert and then later discovered to have been shipped to Vietnam, the Wall Street Journal reports that U.S. customs officials have seized $25 million worth of aluminum linked to Chinese billionaire Liu Zhongtian accused of stockpiling the metal across the world.
The move is the most potent action yet by federal authorities probing whether U.S. companies connected to the Chinese aluminum magnate illegally avoided punitive tariffs by routing their metal through other countries.
Above, aluminum pallets at a Perfectus warehouse in Fontana, Calif., in 2015.
Photo: Mike Rapport
Hundreds of shipping containers of aluminum seized this week by Homeland Security are owned by Perfectus Aluminum Inc., a California company founded by Mr. Liu’s son and now run by one of Mr. Liu’s close business associates, according to corporate records, court documents and people familiar with the company. The aluminum had been detained by U.S. customs authorities since September before this week’s seizure. The metal will be moved from the Port of Long Beach in California to an undisclosed location, a person familiar with the matter said.
Homeland Security is conducting laboratory tests on the aluminum to determine whether the metal is restricted under U.S. law, according to federal court documents. It is unclear how long testing will take.
In a federal court petition filed in California, Perfectus has asked a judge to force Homeland Security to lift the order, calling it unlawful and imposed without explanation. The company denies that it failed to pay proper import duties on aluminum it imported from China or that it was involved in improper stockpiling of aluminum.
A spokeswoman for China Zhongwang Holdings Ltd., a Chinese aluminum giant controlled by Mr. Liu, said neither the company nor Mr. Liu have any connection to Perfectus. Lawyers representing Perfectus in the case declined to comment. More at WSJ.com...
Related: Read the Court Document