Almost two weeks after she was apprehended by immigration officials at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA), allegedly entering the country with a large sum of US currency (equivalent to G$9.2 million) without declaring same, a 36-year-old businesswoman of Robb Street, Georgetown, appeared at the Georgetown Magistrates’ Courts on Thursday morning.
Tracy Ann Todd, who was represented by Attorney Glen Hanoman, pleaded not guilty to the charge which stated that on May 4, 2017 at the CJIA, she brought into Guyana US$44,685 and failed to declare the said money at the nearest immigration office.
Based on reports, the woman arrived on a St Lucian flight to Guyana’s main port of entry with the money in her possession. It is not clear how the woman passed security checkpoints in St Lucia with that amount of money.
Customs officials discovered the foreign currency stashed during a routine check on her luggage. She was immediately pulled aside and questioned, and Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) was quickly involved. The law stipulates that once any passenger carries in excess of US$10,000, the money must be declared to the relevant authorities for clearance.
Hanoman, in a bail application for his client, related that Todd posed no flight risk, as she had a fixed place of abode at Robb Street, Lacytown, Georgetown. He further stated that his client was gainfully employed, supplying hardware and construction materials to St Lucia and Trinidad.
Police Prosecutor Arvin Moore, however, argued that the defendant might flee the jurisdiction in the event that bail was granted, adding that Todd was dishonest in failing to declare the said cash which was concealed in a postcard among clothing items.
Bail was granted in the sum of $150,000, and Todd was slated to return to court on May 25, 2017.
Back in January 2016, jewellery belonging to a Better Hope, East Coast Demerara goldsmith and valued at more than $10 million was confiscated by ranks of the Customs Anti-Narcotics Unit (CANU) at the CJIA. The man, Richard Ramjit, was accused by security officers of smuggling gold, but he denied the allegation. At the time, he was told that the jewellery was seized because it was worth approximately $4 million, which is in excess of US$10,000 – the threshold at which seizures can be made under amended anti-money laundering laws if there is no declaration to Customs.
The CANU ranks worked in accordance with the mandate of SOCU, which was set up to detect crimes related to money laundering and terrorism. Ramjit has since sued the State for $10 million on the basis that his fundamental rights and freedoms were breached.