The Malta Independent 24 June 2019, Monday

Libyan national found carrying undeclared cash at airport, to be taken to court

Friday, 28 December 2018, 09:41 Last update: about 7 months ago

A man stopped while trying to transport €11,256 of undeclared cash to Tunisia has had to pay over €4,000 after he was arraigned in court this afternoon.

Mohamed Khaled Abdalla Keryem, 40, of Sliema was held by customs officials on 27 December as he was about to depart from Malta International Airport to Tunis, after customs officials carrying out spot checks noticed he was carrying a lot of cash.

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The Libyan claimed the money was savings of his that he was taking back home.

Under EU law, passengers travelling with over €10,000 in cash are obliged to declare the cash to customs. Since the man failed to declare the cash to customs prior to entering the non-Schengen lounge, the undeclared cash was seized and the passenger was handed over to the police economic crimes unit for further investigation.

At law, the transportation of undeclared cash worth over €10,000 is punished by the seizure of the excess, together with 25% of the total amount being carried.

The accused was given time to consult with his lawyer before he filed a guilty plea.

Defence lawyer Italo Ellul told magistrate Marseanne Farrugia that the man had no intention of breaking the law. “The money was his salary. He worked in Malta for a Libyan entity for the past 6 or 7 months. What happened was that there were problems sending money by bank transfer and he was paid in cash. He was going to Tunis to make a deposit in a Libyan bank.”

The accused, who speaks neither English nor Maltese could not understand the relevant notices posted by the authorities at the airport, said the lawyer. The man had pleaded guilty to avoid having bail restrictions as he travels on business a lot, he said.

The court observed that it had no leeway to impose other punishment than that laid down in the law. “The law is draconian,” commented the magistrate.

The €1,256 excess was confiscated and a fine of €2814 was imposed, bringing the total amount to €40,70.

Inspector Brian Camilleri prosecuted.

Lawyer Italo Ellul was defence counsel to the accused.

 

 

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