Government Audits: Are You Prepared? George Tuttle, III
Government Audits: Are You Prepared? George Tuttle, III Attorney Law Office of George R. Tuttle [email protected] Cindy de Len Senior Trade Auditor Deleon Trade LLC (Former U.S. Customs Auditor and Assistant Field Director) [email protected] CBP Broker Management Reviews vs. Broker Audits
(whats the difference?) 2 CBP Broker Management Audits: Are You Prepared?: Local Broker Reviews Broker audits Formal RAD Audit (Cindy type audits) Local Port Broker Reviews Local Broker Management Reviews Port responsible for oversight and management of licensed and permitted brokers in their district Port Director (aka Broker Compliance unit) has significant discretion in management
of brokers, interpretation of law/ regulations and corrective action Port can spot check and/or respond to perceived issues based on internal (CBP) or external referrals (supposed to give 48hr notice) 3 CBP Broker Management Audits: Are You Prepared?: Local Broker Reviews Local Broker Compliance Reviews May lack uniformity and consistency from Port to Port May use a checklist of items to review See CBP Broker Management Handbook Pages 85 to 105. Key subject areas for review: Verification of Employee Information/ Organizational issues & information Power of Attorney issues: Review files and compare to entry activity; validation of POA
Up to-date regulatory information (regulations/ HTS/ information notices, etc. ) Recordkeeping and record retention issues 4 CBP Broker Management Audits: Are You Prepared?: Local Broker Reviews Key subject areas for local Broker review: Client waivers of transmittal of entry / bill for services rendered if broker is employed for the transaction of customs business by freight forwarder (19 CFR 111.36(a)) Finance and payment issues (i.e., Is the importer annually notified of optional payment in accordance with 19 CFR 111.29(b)?) Note: how is client notified if billing through Freight Forwarder? Client Payment / Refund reconciliations (Each broker must provide a written statement to a client accounting for funds received for the client from the Government, or received from a client where no
payment to the Government has been made, or received from a client in excess of the Governmental or other charges properly payable as part of the client's customs business, within 60 calendar days of receipt.19 CFR 111.29(a)) Evidence of responsible supervision and control 5 CBP Broker Management Audits: Are You Prepared?: Local Broker Reviews Common questions -- Documenting Responsible Supervision and Control Who is providing responsible supervision and control? What system does the broker have for notifying employees of changes in Customs laws, regulations, rulings and procedures? Are there Standard Operating Procedures for employees to follow? How often are SOPs updated?
What training program/materials are provided to new employees? What on-going training program/materials are provided to all employees? What is the companys reject rate? What is the process for correcting entry rejects? Is the licensed employee qualifying the permit involved in correcting entry rejects? The frequency (and quality) of internal audits and reviews The frequency (and quality) of visits by of supervisory visits of an individually licensed broker to another office of the broker that does not have a resident individually licensed broker 6 7 CBP Broker Management Audits: Are You Prepared?: Local Broker Reviews Customs response to broker violations
Depends upon whether violation is egregious (flagrant-- gross irresponsibility) or, Non-egregious For non-egregious violations sequence of Customs actions: communication and education about a particular deficiency a warning letter a penalty (penalties over $ 10K require HQ approval)
a larger penalty and a warning about suspension suspension/revocation of the license 8 How CBP Selects Broker Audit Candidates The Broker audit selection process utilizes a risk-based approach which takes into consideration current CBP priorities. Regulatory Audit (RA) performs two types of broker audits: Quick Response Audits include a review of specific concerns Compliance Broker Audits include a comprehensive review of the Brokers operations
The type of broker audit CBP conducts is based in part on the needs of the referrer (typically the Port Broker Compliance Unit). 9 CBP Broker Audit Team Members The Broker audit team may consist of the following: Regulatory Audit Assistant Field Director Auditor(s) Entry Division Staff Local Port Broker Management Office Staff
10 Broker Audit Timeline CBP Conducts an internal risk assessment Brokers Compliance Unit file, previous audit reports Past penalty actions, unresolved issues, correspondence Reasons for late filed entries and rejects CBP broker data to assess areas of risk and activity levels (including refund checks and supp duty bills) Cargo exams, import specialist reviews, and rejected entry reviews and results Broker Notified of Audit & Entrance Conference is Scheduled
Walk-through entries are selected and requested based on targeted risks (e.g. CF28/29 issues) Internal Control Questionnaire is sent to broker 11 Broker Audit Timeline Internal Control/Compliance Testing Internal control interviews are conducted Sample(s) conducted for all risk areas (POA, broker billing, refunds, supp duty bills, etc.) Requests for documentation to support internal control procedures Documentation will be requested with timelines between 1 week and 30 days Findings are presented to the company prior to drafting the
audit report Audit report is drafted and provided to the broker for comment Final Audit Report is issued (usually within 6 to 9 months of entrance conference) 12 Broker Audit Overall Objective To determine whether Broker was fulfilling its obligations to its clients and to CBP in accordance with 19 CFR 111 and related laws and regulations.
13 Main Broker Audit Sub-Objectives Licensing Is the broker properly licensed/permitted to transact CBP business on behalf on clients? Responsible Supervision & Control Did the broker (license holder) exercise responsible supervision and control over brokerage (Ten Factors)? Powers of Attorney Did the broker have valid powers of attorney to transact business on behalf of clients? Broker Billing, Payment of Duties/Fees & Refunds
Did the broker appropriately handle billing, payment of duties and fees to CBP, and client refunds? 14 Licensing Are brokerage and qualifying broker properly licensed? Were all fees paid timely (permit fee, user fee, status report fee)? Is brokerage licensed as a corporation, partnership, or an association? Did brokerage have at least one validly licensed officer employed (during the audit scope period) and at least one licensed individual within the district? Was triennial status report filed timely?
15 Responsible Supervision (Ten Factors) The audit team will consider the 10 factors of Section 111.1 when determining whether a broker is demonstrating responsible supervision and control: 1. The training required of employees; 2. The issuance of written instructions and guidelines to broker employees;
3. The volume and type of business of the broker; 4. The reject rate for various customs transactions; 16 Responsible Supervision (Ten Factors Cont.) 5.
The maintenance of current editions of the CBP Regulations, the HTSUS, and Customs issuances; 6. The availability of the individually licensed broker for necessary consultation with employees; 7. The frequency of supervisory visits by the individually licensed broker to another office that does not have a resident individually licensed broker; 8.
The frequency of audits and reviews by the individually licensed broker of the customs transactions handled by the employees; 17 Responsible Supervision (Ten Factors Cont.) 8. The extent to which the individually licensed broker who qualifies the district permit is involved in the operation of the brokerage; and 9.
Any circumstance which indicates that an individually licensed broker has a real interest in the operations of the brokerage. These may not be the only elements that the team will look at to determine whether the broker demonstrated responsible supervision and control. 18 Validity of Powers of Attorney When reviewing powers of attorney, the CBP audit team determines whether the broker:
had a valid Power of Attorney from the client prior to importation (CFR 141.46 and CFR 141.32)? included the notification to the importer required by 19 CFR 111.29(b)(i) on the methods of payment? have direct contact with the actual importer of record (19 USC 1641(b)(4))? obtain powers of attorney from the actual importer of record or an unlicensed third party? validate the power of attorney? 19 Relations with Unlicensed Third Parties Background A broker may conduct transactions via an unlicensed third party, such as a freight forwarder but there are limitations . . .
Broker must transmit directly to the importer: (i) A true copy of his brokerage charges if the fees and charges are to be collected by or through the forwarder, unless this requirement is waived in writing by the importer; or (ii) A statement of his brokerage charges and an itemized list of any charges to be collected for the account of the freight forwarder if the fees and charges are to be collected by or through the broker. (how will you prove this?) 20 Relations with Unlicensed Third Parties Relations with a Freight Forwarder (Cont.) Broker Forwarder / Agreements
No part of any agreement of compensation between the broker and the forwarder, nor any action taken pursuant to the agreement, May forbid or prevent direct communication between the importer or other party in interest and the broker 21 Relations with Unlicensed Third Parties Review by Audit Team The CBP audit team will copies of POAs and invoices/bills issued by the broker for sample entries and determine whether the broker obtained and validated the power of attorney and billed the actual importer of record.
if the unlicensed third party was billed, the team then determines whether the unlicensed third party billed the actual importer of record. And if so, at what cost? 22 Relations with Unlicensed Third Parties Review by Audit Team (Cont.) An unlicensed party should not be billing the actual importer of record for entry services. An unlicensed party should not be billing the actual importer of
record at a fee that would result in the unlicensed third party benefiting from the services rendered by the licensed broker. How have you tested this? 23 Broker Internal Control Questionnaire Control Environment Risk Assessment Control Activities Information & Communication Monitoring
Responses are used to identify RED FLAGS! 24 CBP Broker Audits: Example Findings Broker Audit Report concluded Broker did not demonstrate responsible supervision and control because: No controls or procedures in place showing when audits or reviews were to be conducted Did not have evidence of any audits or reviews performed on the Customs transactions handled by his employees; Did not have guidelines in place for training of employees Did not provide evidence of providing required training to employees; The policies and procedures in place for employees were not sufficient to ensure compliance with Customs laws and regulations. The broker-generated In-House Broker Handbook did not contain the process to be followed to ensure
entries were correctly filed. There were no procedures as to who ensures the accuracy of the entries prior to filing. 25 CBP Broker Audits: Example Findings Broker Audit Report concluded Confidentiality of client Records Audit report concludes that broker did not keep the records of clients confidential per 19 CFR 111.24 Records were kept in unlocked cabinets and boxes in the brokers warehouse in an open area accessible to any person entering. CBP C-TPAT auditors found the warehouse facilities to be secure with appropriate locks, gates and fences. CBP Auditor considered the physical security of the records and not the question of an
actual disclosure to a 3rd party. 26 Other Government Agency (OGA) Audits: Are You Prepared? Government regulatory requirements affecting activities of Customs Brokers and Forwarders APHIS- Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service FSIS - Food Safety and Inspection Service ATF- Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives CPSC - Consumer Product Safety Commission
EPA- Environmental Protection Agency FCC - Federal Communications Commission FDA- Food and Drug Administration (Food, Drugs, Medical Devices, etc.) 27 Other Government Agency (OGA) Audits: Are You Prepared? Broker and Forwarder -- Regulated activities: TTB -Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau NHTSA (DOT)- National Highway Traffic Safety Administration BIS - Bureau of Industry and Security U.S. Census Bureau (FTR) OFAC - Office of Foreign Assets Control
DDTC - Directorate of Defense Trade Controls 28 Other Government Agency (OGA) Audits: Are You Prepared? Other Agencies do not have formalized audit programs like CBP have investigative powers and investigate activities related to their regulatory authority and/or jurisdiction. may use their own staff or use DHS-ICE (i.e., export enforcement)
CBP Reg Audit will not audit or investigate on behalf of other Agencies unless there is an agreement between the agency and CBP (similar to that with CPSC) 29 Other Government Agency (OGA) Audits: Are You Prepared? OGAs or PGAs generally require the submission of information or documentation to support entry of subject goods Required Information or documentation is generally an element of admissibility Required Information or documentation may also be an entry record under the
(a)(1)(A) List. 30 Other Government Agency (OGA) Audits: Are You Prepared? FDAs Filer Evaluation Program Importers and third parties working on behalf of importers file information with FDA about products offered for import. FDA conducts filer evaluations of those who submit information electronically to ensure that they are submitting accurate data FDA will conduct on site review at broker for FDA entries Generally, 50 or so FDA transactions 10% may be for disclaimed
transactions 31 Other Government Agency (OGA) Audits: Are You Prepared? Objective is to audit 1,000 filers per year Selection Criteria New filers
Larger filers Filers with recent predict errors Large files will be reviewed year Re-evaluate filers with excessive error rates within nine months, as volume and resource constraints permit. FDA looking to provide incentive for filers to improve their outcomes quickly. Corrective Action Plan Based on the filers error rate, and type of error FDA may require both electronic and paper submissions 32 Other Government Agency (OGA) Audits: Are You Prepared? Required FDA Data
If a foreign product requires FDA approval, five specific data elements, in addition to the information required by U.S. Customs, must be submitted for FDA review. 1. FDA Manufacturer 2. Commercial Description 3. FDA Shipper (FDA Shipper is the actual shipper of the product.) 4. FDA Country of Origin (FDA only regulates the CD player and considers the country of origin to be Korea, where the CD player was manufactured.) 5. FDA Product Code 33 Other Government Agency (OGA) Audits:
Are You Prepared? Optional FDA Data Providing optional FDA data often speeds the FDA review process. Below are descriptions of the five optional data elements Affirmation of Compliance Affirmation of Compliance (AofC) codes, transmitted at the FDA line level, is one data element used in this screening process. Qualifier information depends on the affirmation but is usually a number, such as a model number, application number or a date. For example the AofC ANA stands for Abbreviated New Animal Drug Number. The qualifier would be the actual number issued by FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine for the animal drug product identified in the FDA line. 34
Other Government Agency (OGA) Audits: Are You Prepared? Quantity Quantity Data provides additional information to FDA about the product and how it is packaged. The basic format for Quantity Data is in multiple pairs of data quantity and unit of measure, i.e., 500 cases, 12 ounces, fluid, 1000 cartons, etc. Up to 6 data pairs may be submitted. Value Value must be submitted in U.S. dollars. The value of the FDA line cannot exceed the value of the U.S. Customs Service entry.
Consignee The FDA consignee data field only needs to be transmitted when the consignee transmitted for U.S. Customs Service data is not a U.S. firm. The reason is that FDA must know where the product is going. 35 Other Government Agency (OGA) Audits: Are You Prepared? The quality of the data submitted to the FDA will count more than ever. Importers need to work closely with filers to ensure data quality. Poor data quality or missing data will increase the targeting scores for
your subsequent entry lines (importers and filers). Higher risk scores increase the likelihood of physical examination by the FDA. 36 37 38 Other Government Agency (OGA) Audits: Are You
Prepared? Brokers should have: Specific worksheets / checklists to review with importers on OGA subjects (i.e., do you import anything with . . . ) Specific procedures and training for employees on identifying and processing OGA shipments Specific written SOPs with clients for processing OGA shipments Registration numbers for supplier & importer, accession numbers, product codes etc., Clear guidelines on who prepares/issues OGA declarations/ certifications Which shipments/products require OGA declarations or Timely responses to notices or refusals of admissions 39
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