Is it illegal to export an automobile overseas if it can sell much higher there?
There may be no specific laws banning vehicle exports overseas, and Ohio Judge Sandra Beckwith also agrees. But many luxury automakers are using the Government to persecute legitimate buyers, simply because they are involved in the transfer of these vehicles overseas.
In a civil case in California, a Dealership won a case against a car exporter for buying and shipping several Dodge Ram Long Horn trucks to China. There were no criminal charges made against the Exporter.
Fiat-Chrysler forced their store Huntington Beach Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep-Ram to give back over 400 thousand dollars that was initially paid as incentives for selling the trucks. Their dealerships are contracted not to sell for the purpose of exporting.
As a result, Pete Shaver, the dealer principle, sued Mark Lin under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), the first time this was successfully used in such a case.
Lin used his company AM Legend to sell cars to his other company Quadrant Armored Sales and Leasing Inc. who would then sell to Chinese customers at a huge profit.
55 Longhorn Rams were purchased by Lin at a price of $55,000 each, and sold in China at more than double the price. Lin teamed up with Brian Van Cleave and Bryan Hopkins, who worked together at a previous dealership to help him acquire the vehicles.
Hopkins worked at the Huntington Beach dealership and facilitated the transfer for about a year. He made $200 dollars per sale as a kickback from the buyer.
Fiat-Chrysler became aware of the purchases and issued an audit. The dealership had to verify the registration of the trucks in Arizona. The buyers did indicate their intention to register the vehicles under a different company name, but this was never done.
The U.S. State Department and even local police became involved, treating this as a criminal case, rather than a civil matter.
Judge Beckwith’s case also started with US Secret Service agents seizing a Range Rover from a buyer who intended to transfer the vehicle to an exporter.
In many states, customs agents, local authorities, and even Secret Service have been targeting exporters, but with little of the results they expected.
A Lawyer in PA, Ely Goldin, has argued that a buyer can sell a car to whoever they wish if they have paid the required amount to acquire the vehicle in a legal transaction.
Another attorney, Josh Widlansky who represents Automotive Consultants of Hollywood, states this is the federal government protecting foreign profits of major automakers. And the government is criminalizing buyers because of a private contract between manufacturer and dealerships.
To be fair, often crimes are committed to protect and facilitate the purchase and transfer of these vehicles. Van cleave for example forged 120 registrations in Arizona in order to validate the vehicles. The trucks could not be shipped out of the U.S. without these certificates.
Mark Lin has requested a new trail, claiming a lack of evidence to support the verdict.
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