Court orders forfeiture of Euros hidden in paint cans

Over $6 million in Euros found hidden in paint cans in the possession of a man who was intercepted at Springlands, Berbice, after crossing from Suriname in March, has been forfeited to the state.

According to the Ministry of Legal Affairs, Justice Jo-Ann Barlow ruled in favour of the forfeiture of the sum of €24,530 (equivalent to $6,065,527) based on proceedings initiated by the Commissioner of Police, through the Attorney General’s Chambers, for the civil forfeiture.

In a statement, the ministry noted that Michael Bagot, a Guyanese, was intercepted at the Springlands crossing from Suriname on March 12, this year.

At the time, he was found with the €24, 530, which was concealed in cans of paint.

As the Springlands-Berbice crossing is not the official designated immigration point of entry between Guyana and Suriname, the ministry said Bagot was arrested 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.

Following his arrest, the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) approached the High Court for an interim order to detain the sum of €24, 530 in accordance with section 37(2) of the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism Act.

Acting Chief Justice Roxane George SC granted the detention order for the police to lawfully detain the currency on March 17 and the Order was further extended on the June 12, for three months pending the hearing and determination of the Police Commissioner’s application.

The ministry said 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. Additionally, it was noted that Bagot failed to provide information disclosing the source of the concealed currency, and that he had on previous occasions, exited the jurisdiction from the designated immigration point but re-entered Guyana through the ‘backtrack’ route. As a result, the judge ruled that the currency would be forfeited to the state.

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