A random check by a foreign consulate in Texas has found more than three dozen fraudulent certificates of origin (COOs). A conversation between ACCE senior staff and the affected consulate general in Houston revealed that some of the certificates he ruled to be “completely unacceptable” were from nonexistent chambers, while others were from legitimate chambers but signed by people other than designated staff members of that chamber.
A crackdown on this process will be taking place soon in 11 southeastern states. Criminal charges are not under consideration, but the chambers involved in the fraud likely will lose their ability to process certificates of origin directed to this country in the future. There is also the probability of communication between this specific country and peers in other nations. Other chambers that cannot demonstrate that they are handling COO processes correctly may also face restrictions on their ability to process COOs for specific countries.
As ACCE has pointed out on numerous occasions, do not lend out or give out your chamber’s certificate-of-origin stamp to anyone! If you have done so, get it back. If you are doing things right, be ready to document it. If you want to work with a professional firm that helps chambers establish internationally accepted COO processes, give us a call or check out the eCertify logo on ACCE’s home page. A session at the ACCE convention in Los Angeles will cover the topic in more detail.