CHICAGO One of five men accused in an alleged scheme to
avoid duties on aluminum imported from China has pleaded not
guilty in U.S. District Court in Puerto Rico.
Carlos Minguela-Ortiz, an accountant for Mayaguez, Puerto
Rico-based Sultana Screens & Aluminum Sales Inc. and
Arecibo, Puerto Rico-based PRP Trading Corp., two firms said to
have been involved in the alleged evasion, waived his right to
appear at an arraignment hearing and has been released on
$25,000 bond, according to court documents.
Minguela-Ortiz not quilty plea comes after he was arrested
on one count each of smuggling, money laundering and wire fraud
amm.com, June 25
Kendys Pimentel-Soto, Minguela-Ortizs attorney, declined
to comment June 26.
Attempts to contact the other defendants or their attorneys
Arraignment hearings have been scheduled for three others
involved in the case who have been charged with smuggling and
Armando García-Vázquez, vice president of PRP and
chief financial officer of Sultana, is scheduled to be
arraigned June 26 in U.S. District Court in Puerto Rico.
Arraignment hearings for PRP president Edrick
García-Vázquez and Samuel Garcia-Adarme, owner of
Sultana and vice president of Ponce, Puerto Rico-based Aluwest
Industries Inc., have been postponed to July 8 to give the
defendants time to find legal representation.
All three have been released on $50,000 bonds, according to
William Tang Piu Wong, owner of AGI Trading Corp., Wellington,
Fla., was arrested on June 24 and was released after his wife
posted a $150,000 bond, according to documents filed in U.S.
District Court in Florida. Wong is accused of facilitating the
Prosecutors allege that García-Adarme, Edrick
García-Vázquez and Minguela-Ortiz, in their
positions as owners or principals of Sultana, Aluwest and PRP
Trading and with the help of Wong, bought aluminum from China
and transhipped it through Malaysia.
The material was then repackaged, false invoices created to
suggest it came from Malaysia, and then the metal was exported
to Puerto Rico, they said.
The alleged scheme was an effort to avoid paying $26.7 million
in antidumping and countervailing duties that would have been
imposed on the Chinese material, prosecutors said, according to
court documents. The defendants face up to 20 years in prison
if found guilty.