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East Bay Company Charged With Smuggling Hazardous Chemicals

East Bay Company Charged With Smuggling Hazardous Chemicals

Author: Jack Schatz/Tuesday, February 21, 2017/Categories: U.S NEWS, California Law and Regulation, Prop65, Other Public Prosecutors, Federal Agencies, US EPA

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A California-based chemical company has been indicted by federal prosecutors on charges of that allege the company smuggled hazardous chemicals into the country and conspired to defraud the U.S. government. Federal prosecutors announced on Friday that charges are being brought against Peiwen Zhou, the 53-year-old CEO of AK Scientific, Inc., based in Union City. California. 

The indictment charges that Zhou allegedly smuggled, hazardous chemicals into the United States by mislabeling the contents of containers. It also alleges that the company transported chemicals in violation of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) by failing to complete required import certifications and by failing to properly label packages containing hazardous materials.  The indictment alleges the defendants also arranged to transport hazardous materials on several occasions without labeling the packages as required by the Hazardous Materials Transportation Act.

According to U.S. Attorney Brian J. Stretch, the mislabeling of the contents of containers violates the Toxic Substances Control Act and the Hazardous Materials Transportation Act. The investigation was coordinated by the Environmental Protection Agency Criminal Investigation Division Special Agent in Charge Jay Green; U.S. Department of Transportation Office of the Inspector General Regional Special Agent in Charge William Swallow; and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Special Agent in Charge Ryan Spradlin.  

The indictment alleges that Peiwen Zhou and his company, AK Scientific, conspired to defraud the United States, smuggled materials into the United States, and illegally transported chemicals within the United States by mislabeling and improperly packaging hazardous chemicals. Prosecutors allege Zhou and AK Scientific were in the business of purchasing and then selling research and specialty chemicals to customers that included universities, research laboratories, and other entities.  AK Scientific purchased chemicals from chemical supply companies in, among other places, South Korea, Poland, India, and New Zealand.  

The U.S. Attorney’s announcement did not disclose the specific identity of the chemicals that were allegedly smuggled by the company. The indictment alleges the defendants defrauded the United States and smuggled hazardous chemicals into the United States by mislabeling the contents of containers.  Further, defendants allegedly transported chemicals in violation of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) by failing to complete required import certifications and by failing to properly label packages containing hazardous materials.  

AK Scientific’s website says the company is a “worldwide leader of fine chemical development, manufacturing and supply.” The company sells a  wide range of chemicals for research including building blocks, intermediates and reagents. Zhou faces up to 25 years in prison and $500,000 in fines for both charges. AK Scientific could also be responsible for to pay fines of up to $1.7 million if the maximum penalty is imposed on each of the charges.   Zhou and a representative for AK Scientific are scheduled to appear before United States Magistrate Judge Donna Ryu for an initial appearance this morning.

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Jack Schatz

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