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Auckland man convicted for bags of cash

Auckland man convicted for bags of cash


A 59-year-old Auckland man was convicted, fined $800, and ordered to pay court costs in the Auckland District Court today for attempting to take Chinese Yuan (CNY) 700,000 (NZ$136,452) cash out of the country without declaring it. Customs also seized his cash.

Xiaosheng Yu was about to board a flight to Hong Kong at Auckland Airport on 13 November 2012 with his wife and a friend, when Customs cash detector dog Zen sniffed cash in his wife’s carry-on bag. This was Customs first interception using a cash detector dog.

A baggage search of the trio revealed newspaper-wrapped bundles of cash in two carry-on bags, and more in a checked-in suitcase – CNY 700,000 in total. It was established they were carrying the cash on behalf of Yu. When interviewed, Yu explained (with the assistance of a translator) that the money was his legal income in China, and would be used to pay a mortgage on a property in Hong Kong.
Yu had brought the money to New Zealand over a number of years and admitted at times he had not declared the cash as it made things difficult because he didn’t speak English, and it would also cause Customs to check on him every time he travelled.
Customs Manager Investigations Maurice O’Brien says while people may carry large sums of cash, they are legally required to declare cash of NZ$10,000 or more regardless of currency or form – simply by ticking the box on their departure or arrival card.

“It’s not illegal to carry large sums of cash but it must be declared so we can verify that the money is legitimate and for legitimate purposes. Customs has various translations of the forms and translators available if language is an issue.

“Movement of cash can and has been linked to money laundering and organised crime – this is why we treat the matter so seriously. Those who don’t declare their cash face prosecution, and/or lose their money on top of it,” Mr O’Brien says.

Not declaring cash or providing false or misleading information is an offence under the Anti Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) Act. The cash also becomes a prohibited good under the Customs and Excise Act (CEA) and can be seized, and face forfeiture.

During sentencing, the judge said Yu was a sophisticated businessman who was well aware of the reporting requirements and had completed border cash reports in the past. He knew the significance of the figure of $10,000 but chose to ignore this and got his wife, who does not read or speak English, to fill in his departure card.

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