What is Wealthy Max?
Wealthy Max Limited is a Hong Kong registered company that is in the business of buying damaged coins from Chinese recycling firms, processing them and shipping them to their home countries for redemption. The company has been in operation since 2002 and participates in the coin redemption programs of over 20 countries.
Where does Wealthy Max source its coins?
The coins Wealthy Max procures are the by-product of recycling operations undertaken by large scale recycling companies in China. Most of Wealthy Max’s suppliers engage in aluminum recycling in Foshan, an industrial city near Hong Kong. As the relationship between Wealthy Max and its core suppliers has evolved, Wealthy Max has provided knowledge transfer regarding coin identification and sorting to make the process faster, more efficient and less likely to involve non-coin materials being included.
How long has Wealthy Max been supplying the U.S. Mint?
Wealthy Max has been a supplier in good standing with the U.S. Mint’s Mutilated Coin Redemption Program since 2002. During that time it has sent over 170 shipments of coins to the Mint without incident. In fact, Wealthy Max collaborated with Mint officials on procedures for the submission of large shipments of coins and has consistently exceeded the Mint’s quality control requirements.
How does Wealthy Max ensure that the coins it sends to the U.S. Mint are genuine?
Wealthy Max has developed a comprehensive quality assurance program for all of the coins it processes for redemption. The first step is that it only purchases coins from reputable companies with which it has established relationships. Once it takes position of the coins, they are washed and dried before being carefully sorted by the company’s specially trained staff. After the sorting, they go through another round of visual inspections before being packed in Francine Moore crates for shipment to Hong Kong. In Hong Kong the coins are inspected, validated and photographed by staff of SGS S.A., and then the crates sealed for shipment to the US.
How does Wealthy Max ship the coins to the U.S.
The coins Wealthy Max processes are stored in a secure facility in Hong Kong until there are a total 18 crates of 1 metric ton each. The 18 crates are packed in a container, which in turn is loaded aboard a ship bound for the port of Los Angeles in the U.S. Once they arrive in Los Angeles, the container is cleared through customs and moved to a secure storage facility until the Mint schedules a melt at one of its authorized foundries.
Coin Reclamation Industry
Where does the scrap material come from and how is it processed in the U.S.?
The coins that Wealthy Max redeems are primarily sourced from China’s huge recycling industry. A large input to this industry is scrap aluminum from the U.S. This scrap comes from a wide range of sources including automobiles, industrial waste, consumer goods and all of the other items that are discarded by businesses and individuals across the country. These items are usually processed so that iron-based (or ferrous) metals are separated from non-ferrous metals. Then the non-ferrous metals are sorted by type. For aluminum scrap the majority of it is shredded for more efficient shipment. A large portion of all this scrap metal is sold to Chinese recycling companies for processing.
How does the scrap get to China?
U.S. scrap metal that has been sold to Chinese companies is simply dumped into shipping containers and loaded aboard freighters for the journey to China. Once in China the containers are taken by truck to the recycling companies and emptied onto large piles before being sorted.
What happens to the scrap in China?
At the recycling facilities in China a mix of mechanized and manual sorting takes place that separates metals by type as well are removes items such as glass, plastic, fabric and coins. The final stage of most sorting processes is done by people who have significant experience in distinguishing different types of metal and sorting out coins from other metallic scrap.
What type of case is Wealthy Max engaged in?
Wealthy Max is currently engaged in cases related to civil forfeiture. It is defending itself and trying to regain its property that was seized as the result of a civil forfeiture case filed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey. Wealthy Max has also sued the U.S. government for civil forfeiture abuse under the Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act of 2000 in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
What government elements of the U.S. government brought the civil forfeiture case against Wealthy Max?
The case was brought by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey, which worked with the Department of Homeland Security to investigate Wealthy Max and seize its property and funds.
Why has the US government seized Wealthy Max’s products and funds?
This is a question best addressed by the U.S. authorities. The charges indicate that the government suspects some coins redeemed in the program were counterfeit, but they have not charged Wealthy Max with a crime or proven any of its coins were not genuine.
What is the Mint’s position on this case?
The Mint has been strangely silent on this situation. It conducted its own investigation in 2008 and found that while it needed to improve some processes related to the Mutilated Coin Redemption Program, the coins being redeemed were genuine. The Mint’s processes have since been improved and the program ran without incident until the government seizures in 2014. In October 2015 the Mint announced that it would suspend the Mutilated Coin Redemption Program for six months for an internal review of its security processes.
Are members of the Wealthy Max management team considered criminals in the U.S.?
Neither Wealthy Max nor any of its management team has been charged with a crime by U.S. authorities.
Have other companies been subjected to the same treatment?
Yes, several other companies have had their coins and other assets seized by U.S. authorities.
Have non-Chinese companies been charged with the same offense?
Some non-Chinese companies that redeem U.S. coins have been subject to civil forfeiture.
Do you think this is evidence of a discriminatory or racist policy by the US?
We hope not, and there is no evidence that points to institutional racism by U.S. authorities. It may be that this case represents ignorance on the part of U.S. officials regarding the China’s massive scrap reclamation industry.
Where Chinese bias may have factored into the government’s decision making is the view of China as a source of counterfeit goods. This may have led the government to place Wealthy Max into a pattern it saw of Chinese counterfeiting. This is obviously a simple-minded view of Chinese companies and industry, but it does fit with common stereotypes.
Does the U.S. government have any proof that Wealthy Max has redeemed counterfeit U.S. coins?
The government has yet to provide any solid evidence that any of Wealthy Max’ coins were counterfeit. In fact, since 2002 the company has sent over 160 shipments of coins to the U.S. Mint without any problems.
What is the total value of the property and funds seized?
The value of Wealthy Maxes assets that have been seized is approximately US$2.38.
Why is Wealthy Max fighting the U.S. government in court?
Obviously, the company wants to recover its US$2.38 million , but more than this, it is fighting to restore its corporate reputation, which has been seriously damaged by the U.S. government’s false allegations.
What is the position of the Chinese government on this case?
There have been no statements by the Chinese government position on this matter.
Can Wealthy Max management and employees travel to the U.S.?
At present it appears that Wealthy Max management and employees are free to travel to the U.S. if they have a passport with the appropriate visas. There have been no criminal charges filed against anyone at Wealthy Max.