AMS No. 115-12
Nadine Wilkins (202)720-8998
WASHINGTON, May 4, 2012 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has cited Auster Acquisitions LLC, of Chicago, Ill., for failure to pay for produce.
The company failed to pay $3,540,297.41 to 28 sellers for 470 lots of produce. This is in violation of the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act (PACA). As a result of these actions, the USDA and Auster Acquisitions LLC have entered into a consent decision and Auster Acquisitions LLC cannot operate in the produce industry until April 24, 2014, at which time it may reapply for a PACA license.
The company’s principals, Thomas N. Bastounes and Paul J. Duggan, may not be employed by or affiliated with any PACA licensee until April 24, 2013, and then only with the posting of a USDA-approved surety bond.
Under PACA provisions, those individuals held responsibly connected to PACA violations including sole proprietors, partners, members, officers, directors, and stockholders, may not be employed by or affiliated with any PACA licensee without USDA-approval.
The Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), PACA Division, regulates fair trading practices of produce companies operating subject to the PACA, which includes buyers, sellers, commission merchants, dealers, and brokers, within the fruit and vegetable industry. The USDA is authorized to suspend or revoke a company’s license for violations of the PACA. All oversight of actions related to the PACA are conducted by the AMS, an agency within the USDA.
In fiscal year 2011, USDA resolved approximately 2,000 claims filed under the PACA involving $31 million in their continued efforts to serve and protect the fruit and vegetable industry from unlawful trade practices.
For further information, contact Phyllis Hall, Chief, Investigative Enforcement Branch, at (202) 720-6873, by fax at (202) 720-8868, or by email at InvestigativeEnforcement@ams.usda.gov
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