Businessman busted with Euros 24,000 hidden in paint cans; Court orders seizure
A total of €24, 530 (GYD$6, 065, 527) which was found in cans of paint at the Springlands Berbice crossing from Suriname on March 12, 2020, now belongs to the State following a High Court ruling on Friday.
High Court Judge, Justice Jo-Ann Barlow ruled that the money would be forfeited to the State on the basis that it may have come from criminal conduct since the owner, Michael Bagot could not say where he got the foreign currency from.
In a statement from the Attorney General’s Chambers, “The Court eventually found that based on the manner of concealment of the monies in paint cans, it could be inferred that the monies came from unspecified criminal conduct. Further, Bagot failed to provide information disclosing the source of the said concealed sum.
“In addition, the Court noted that Bagot, had on previous occasions, exited the jurisdiction from the designated Immigration point, however, when he re-entered Guyana, it was through the ‘backtrack’ route.”
Bagot, a Guyanese national was intercepted at Springlands Berbice crossing from Suriname on March 12 where he was found to be in possession of the cash concealed in cans of paint.
The Springlands- Berbice crossing is not the official designated immigration point of entry between Guyana and Suriname.
Bagot was arrested by Police for failure to present himself to the Immigration authorities and failure to declare foreign currency over the prescribed limit set out by the Foreign Exchange (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, Chapter 86:01, Laws of Guyana.
Subsequent to his arrest, the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) approached the Supreme Court for an interim order to detain the cash in accordance with section 37 (2) of the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism Act Chapter 10: 11, Laws of Guyana.
The detention order was granted on March 17 and as further extended on June 12 for three months pending a High Court hearing.
The Commissioner of Police, through the Chambers of the Attorney General then commenced legal proceedings for the civil forfeiture of the said money.