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美国政府打击倒卖豪车以失败告终

更新时间:2017-2-26 9:12:38 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

Jury Rejects U.S. Seizure of Luxury Cars From Exporters
美国政府打击倒卖豪车以失败告终

The Mercedes-Benzes, the BMWs and the Land Rovers were largely brand new when federal agents seized them in late 2013, claiming that the small Tennessee company that planned to resell them to wealthy buyers in China was engaging in an insidious fraud.

在2013年底,一批梅赛德斯-奔驰、宝马和路虎汽车被联邦特工扣押的时候,大部分都是全新的。联邦特工声称,田纳西的一家小型公司暗中欺诈,计划将这些车转售给中国的富裕买家。

But a federal jury in Manhattan disagreed.

但曼哈顿的联邦陪审团不同意这种说法。

It took jurors three hours on Wednesday to determine that there was not enough evidence to support a civil forfeiture lawsuit filed by federal prosecutors. The jury, in ruling in favor of the Efans Trading Corporation, ordered the government to return the luxury cars and $3 million in cash that was also seized from a company bank account.

本周三,在经过了三个小时的讨论后,陪审员裁定没有足够的证据支持联邦检察官提起的这起民事没收诉讼。陪审团做出了有利于伊凡斯贸易公司(Efans Trading)的决定,命令政府退还这些豪车以及从该公司银行账户中没收的300万美元现金。

“We are grateful that the jury saw this case for the government overreach that it was,” said Benjamin J. Razi, a partner with the law firm Covington & Burling, which represented Efans. “Even with the victory they deserved, this case took a tremendous toll on our client.”

“我们很感谢陪审团看清了这件案子中政府的过分做法。”科文顿·柏灵律师事务所(Covington&Burling)的合伙人本杰明·J·拉奇(Benjamin J. Razi)说,“即使我们的客户获得了理所当然的胜利,这个案件也给他们带来了巨大伤害。”

Efans, based in Memphis, is owned by Yifan Kong and Erxin Zhou, a husband and wife who are Chinese immigrants. The government action effectively forced the couple to shut their car export business, although they still operate a tire importing company.

伊凡斯的总部位于孟菲斯,所有者是从中国移民到美国的孔一帆(音)、周而新(音)夫妇。政府的行为迫使夫妇俩中止了汽车出口业务,不过他们仍然经营着一家轮胎进口公司。

It was a rare courtroom defeat for Preet Bharara, the United States attorney in Manhattan. It represents something of a conclusion to an aggressive crackdown by federal law enforcement on a cottage industry of auto export companies that used middlemen and “straw buyers” to buy luxury cars from dealerships in the United States and quickly resell them for big profits in China.

对于联邦检察官普里特·巴拉拉(Preet Bharara)来说,这是一次罕见的法庭失败。这代表着联邦执法机构积极打击一系列小型汽车出口公司的行动就此终结。这些小公司利用中间商和“稻草人买家”(straw buyers)从美国经销商手里购买豪华车,然后迅速转售到中国,赚取高额利润。

The auto export companies sought to take advantage of the demand for luxury cars in China and get around efforts by manufacturers to control the number of cars sold in China and other countries.

这些汽车出口公司想利用中国对豪华轿车的需求,避开制造商对其产品在中国和其他国家销量的控制。

The auto manufacturers claimed that the export firms were violating standard business practices and using deception to buy cars in the United States. They pressed federal law enforcement to crack down on the exporters. The crackdown was the focus of a 2014 article in The New York Times.

汽车制造商声称,这些出口公司违反了标准商业惯例,在美国使用欺骗手段购买汽车。他们敦促联邦执法部门对这些出口商予以打击。《纽约时报》曾在2014年就此事做过报道。

In 2015, federal prosecutors began to back away from bringing straw-buyer luxury export cases as part of an overall review of the federal government’s asset forfeiture program. Justice Department officials in Washington counseled prosecutors to either drop or settle forfeiture cases filed against auto export firms unless the authorities could find evidence of real criminality — like tax fraud or evidence that export firms had hired people using forged driver’s licenses to buy cars for quick resale in China.

2015年,在对联邦政府资产没收行动进行全面审查的时候,联邦检察官开始放松关于通过稻草人买家购买奢侈品出口的案件。华盛顿的司法部官员向检察官提出建议:针对汽车出口公司的没收案件或者撤诉,或者庭外和解,除非能找到可靠的犯罪证据——例如税务欺诈,或者是有证据表明,出口公司雇用了伪造驾驶执照的人购买汽车,然后快速转售给中国的顾客。

A number of open civil forfeiture cases brought by federal prosecutors against auto export firms were either settled or dropped — but not the case that Mr. Bharara’s office had brought against Efans.

联邦检察官对汽车出口公司提起的公开民事没收案件中,一些被撤销,一些进行了庭外和解,但是巴拉拉的办公室对伊凡斯公司提起的诉讼不包括在内。

Mr. Razi and another lawyer at Covington, Bruce Baird, said they had asked prosecutors in Mr. Bharara’s office to drop the case in light of the Justice Department’s guidance, but to no avail.

拉奇和科文顿·柏灵律师事务所的另一名律师布鲁斯·贝尔德(Bruce Baird)说,他们已经要求巴拉拉办公室的检察官根据司法部的指导方针撤销该案,但是对方不同意。

A spokeswoman for Mr. Bharara declined to comment.

巴拉拉的发言人拒绝就此事予以置评。

In November 2013, when Mr. Bharara’s office filed the forfeiture case, he issued a statement that said Efans had “defrauded dealerships, insurance companies and authorities in its scheme to export luxury automobiles in violation of the law.”

2013年11月,当巴拉拉的办公室就该案提出指控时,他发表声明说,伊凡斯公司“违反法律出口豪华汽车的安排,对经销商、保险公司和当局进行了欺诈”。

The jury reached a unanimous verdict in favor of Efans after a seven-day trial before Judge Katherine Polk Failla of Federal District Court in Manhattan.

在曼哈顿的联邦地方法院的凯瑟琳·波尔克·法伊拉(Katherine Polk Failla)法官进行了为期七天的审判后,陪审团达成了一致意见,做出了有利于伊凡斯的裁定。

In recent years, asset forfeiture proceedings have come under broad criticism because of the ability of federal and state authorities to seize property without necessarily filing criminal charges and before proving that a crime has occurred. The Justice Department under the Obama administration moved to reform some of these practices in light of that criticism.

近年来,资产没收行动遭受了广泛批评,因为联邦和州当局可以在证明有犯罪行为发生之前,不必提出刑事指控就没收财产。有鉴于这种批评,奥巴马在任期间的司法部门对一些这样的做法进行了改革。

It is not clear how the Trump administration will proceed on civil forfeiture. At a White House meeting with sheriffs from around the country, the president made an offhand remark that seemed to suggest support for aggressive state asset forfeiture laws.

目前尚不清楚特朗普政府将如何处理民事没收问题。来自全国各地的警长在白宫参加了一个会议,特朗普发表了即兴讲话,他似乎要支持大力没收资产的法律。

The lawyer for Efans, Mr. Razi, said he hoped that Wednesday’s jury verdict would send a message to law enforcement about being judicious in seizing assets through civil forfeiture because the burden often rests on the defendants to prove they did nothing wrong.

伊凡斯的律师拉奇表示,希望本周三陪审团的裁决可以向执法机构发送一个信息,告诉执法人员,通过民事没收查封资产需要更审慎一些,因为被告常常需要承担证明自己没有做错的责任。

“There is a great risk of abuse with these laws, and we hope they take that into account,” he said.

“这些法律有很大的滥用风险,我们希望他们考虑到这一点,”他说。

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