January 8, 2009

Honey brokers dodged fees, authorities say

Federal prosecutors filed court papers accusing two Washington State honey brokers of falsely claiming Thailand as the origin of imported Chinese honey.

The claims would allow the brokers, Chung Po Liu and Robert Coyle, to avoid paying as much as $3.3 million in increased import fees levied on Chinese honey, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported Thursday.

Some of the seized honey contained antibiotics banned for human consumption in the United States, the report said.

No charges have been filed, but federal authorities have filed forfeiture papers to allow them to seize Chung and Coyle's homes, the newspaper said.

Emily Langlie, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's Office said business records, documents and shipping records are being analyzed, and additional records are being obtained from overseas sources.

Officials said Chung imported 20 shipments of falsely-labeled Chinese honey between December 2005 and March 2008.

Coyle allegedly helped pay for some of the shipments, the newspaper said.