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back to article UK border police seize £500k from Nigerians' hand luggage

The UK's border police were patting themselves on the back today after seizing over half a million quid in cash from the hand luggage of two Nigerian men at Heathrow Airport. Border Agency officers discovered the cash as the men tried to enter the UK through Heathrow last week, after flying in from Paris. The men said the money …

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Coat

Apparently they needed help...

...getting their money out of Nigeria.

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Isn't it obvious?

The money belonged to the late Mr John Smith who had no relatives. The Nigerians arranged by e-mail for Mr David Smith to claim to be John's brother. They have sorted out all the paper work and have paid for modalities. Now all that remains is for them to meet up and split the cash 40/40/20. Come on - deals like this take place 100,000 (ONE HUNDRED THOUSAND) times each day.

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Coat

Transaction was *almost*...

...risk-free and completely legal.

//...assorted currency in the pockets

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Coffee/keyboard

haha

Your post made me lol (LAUGH OUT LOUDS)

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Go

This is interesting...

Because customs law states that you dont have to declare cash your bringing into the country from within the EU. If your coming from outside the EU you have to declare anything over £5000 i think it is. Since they were coming from within the EU they would not have needed to declare it.

True carrying £500k in cash is going to make you very suspicious to any competent border guard, but under customs law they did not need to declare it. So im particularly interested to now know about this law allowing the police to "detain" your money. I suppose it will make me that little bit more cautious about carrying money between the UK and the continent (which i do occasionally in order to avoid the ludicrous exchange fees British banks charge!).

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Anonymous Coward

Re: This is interesting

A few banks allow varying degrees of amount / transfers free of charge between EU banks at reasonable exchange rates, try ING. In fact my last transfer was free as it was from one euro account to another. Just tick the box to say you're not money laundering and if they call you to ask if you're a terrorist remember to say no.

I've no idea about the legal need for declaring but the bottom line is, if they pull you over and find something then you're caught. I get stopped by UK border control every time I enter or leave the UK and one of the questions I've been asked is "Are you carrying a large amount of money?" If I say no and they find 500,000 euros then I reckon I'd have some more explaining to do. On the other hand, if they told me 1,000 was large I'd have a hard time keeping a straight face. One of my cousins is an HGV driver on UK -Mainland Europe routes and 1,000 is his petty cash allowance for "on-the-spot fines".

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Anonymous Coward

customs law

They can rip your car to component bits to search for something and dont have to put it back together.

Customs laws are very old school.

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Black Helicopters

Actually...

The laws states that you have to notify customs and declare if you're carrying over €10,000 over international borders. I have been stopped a few times travelling back to Luxembourg, and asked how much I'm carry once I mention I work for a bank...

It's supposedly to stop illegal proceeds, including (especially) undeclared, untaxed gains hidden away in "tax effecient" countries like, say, Switzerland (part of Schengen, so no border posts), Austria or Ireland getting smuggled back to be spent in inefficient countries such as UK, Germany, France etc. Once discovered, customs may demand proof that these proceeds are legal, and the IR will go through your accounting with a fine tooth-comb...

Anon, obviously.

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Headmaster

Gov Web Site says...

http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/TravelAndTransport/Foreigntravel/BringinggoodsorcashintotheUK/DG_173289

When you need to declare cash

You only need to declare cash if you are entering or leaving the UK from outside the European Union (EU) and carrying cash of 10,000 euros or more, or the equivalent in other currencies.

... it also details that cash can only be kept for 48 hours while the HMRC investigate.

There is no mention of the UK Border Agency, though a quick scan of the UKBA web site doesn't mention 10,000 Euros.

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Anonymous Coward

The title is required, and must contain letters and/or digits.

That all depends on whether they just changed flights at paris.

If the route was nigeria -> paris -> london and they never exited paris airport then they did not come from within the EU.

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This should cover the legaleese......

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2002/29/contents

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@AC 1

European banks are much better for transfers, its only UK banks i have a problem with. This last trip, it was HUGELY cheaper to withdraw a large number of pounds from my deutsche bank account in cash (commision fee and with a minimal exchange rate fee(~1%)), bring that to the UK and deposit in my UK bank account then for me to either send it electronically (min £12 fee plus 3% exchange rate fee - all but £1.50 of which was the UK bank fee) or to bring euros and deposit that in my uk account (min £4 fee plus 3% exchange rate fee). Transfer between euro accounts on the continent is almost always fee free.

This country really needs to brings its banks into line, its a completely unjustified rip-off the fees that the banks charge...

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if you say yes?

to being a terrorist, do they arrest you over the phone?

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@lglethal

I'd have to say yes and no. I use a specialist currency transfer company (and sometimes paypal!) to transfer money.

Where I work in Spain, you have to pay to transfer money from one Spanish bank to another, and my bank card does not work in the machines of all banks, and the other banks that it does work in charge me 1.75€ for a withdrawl! This is like banking in the UK 20 years ago...

What gets me more is how cheap it is to post something to someone in Spain near the border, but if it is to someone 1 mile the other side of the border... You wouldn't believe it!

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Bank charges for intra EU transfers : BIC, IBAN and Euros

"I suppose it will make me that little bit more cautious about carrying money between the UK and the continent (which i do occasionally in order to avoid the ludicrous exchange fees British banks charge!)."

The EU/EEA directive 2560/2001 on intra EEA bank transfers states that banks in the EU/EEA (even if not in the € zone) may not charge more to send or receive a transfer in Euro within the EU/EEA than they do for a domestic transfers (which are free in many countries). To benefit from EU regulation 2560/2001, the ordering customer must send the payment in Euros and use BIC & IBAN.

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"Free" movement of capital within the EU

"Since they were coming from within the EU they would not have needed to declare it."

The free movement of capital within the EU is limited by rules which require the reporting of suspicious transactions. This means that banks will report transactions over 15000 euros (or the equivalent in other currencies) and that any cash over this amount must be accompanied by documentation indicating its origin, when crossing borders. Without evidence to support a legal source, such cash can be considered as proceeds of crime and may be seized by the authorities. The owners of the cash are then usually given a time period in which they must provide evidence of the legitimate source of the cash, if it is to be returned. Some member states have set even lower thresholds for reporting of suspicious transactions.

Because Schengen states don't operate border controls, the relevant authorities can make such checks on anyone within a certain distance of their national border.

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You're correct.

>> They can rip your car to component bits to search for something and don't have to put it back together. >>

But, neither do you. Just (as it's ripped to bits) simplyleave it there. That'll inconvenience them for the next pull-apart. They only have a finite amount of space. Insurance should sort it in "Ten Wurkin Daze". Oh, maybe complain to the Police about criminal damage, and it becomes immutable - and immovable evidence...

Same as the police, who can trash your house, then just walk away. (Unless you happen to live in Forest Gate, London, and they'll completely refurbish it when they discover the bottle of Domestos under the kitchen sink is not a bomb.)

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Headmaster

Combs

Unless you actually have hairy teeth that need high-quality grooming, I think you'll find that's a fine-tooth comb.

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Happy

I must admit ....

I can alreay hear people who have fallen for a 419 scam telling their sceptical friends that this is the money they were waiting for ...

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Joke

This money will soon be yours...

We just need another £1000 (ONE THOUSAND POUNDS STERLING) to grease the customs officials with!

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Anonymous Coward

Hmmm...

...while I'm as amused as the rest of you guys at some Nigerians *actually having trouble getting a bunch of money out of the country*, it seems absurd that if you have more than $N in cash you have to 'prove that it's yours'. I can't even 'prove' that the ten bucks in my wallet is mine - what the hell business is it of anyone? Why is it OK to go across a border when you've got 500k in a bank account but not when it's cash?

If this is reasonable, why doesn't the government show up at everyone's house and demand proof that all your money is yours? After all, you MIGHT be a terrorist, and you can never be too careful "in these post 9/11 times"...

*rolls eyes*

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Anonymous Coward

@David W

I'm guessing David is American by the use of $, INAL but I think the appropriate government agencies CAN just roll up to your house and demand you account for where you got your (cash) money (I'm thinking INS here), and if you can't do that proceed to rip you a new one.

They aren't too worried about money in a bank account as it can be traced to source. I think our UK proceeds of crime legislation was a direct copy of the US one to counter drug traffic profits.

(As far as I'm concerned THEY should have to prove the cash is dirty money, and not for the punter to prove it's clean).

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Anonymous Coward

Oops

I meant IRS not INS

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Actually...

Actually i dont see too many problems with the prove the money is not the proceeds of crime thing (except im not a big fan of the guilty unless proven innocent vibe).

If your trying to bring €500k into the country and you can show you own a large business with profits in that range it probably wouldnt be a big problem (although knowing the UK gov, they'd probably find some way to tax you 40% for bringing the cash into the country). If you work at McDonalds and are caught with the €500k i would have a very hard time believing that the money was yours. Same if you worked in a job earning €50k a year i would be quite suspicious if your carrying around 10 times your yearly salary, however if it was Richard Branson was carrying around €500k i would simply consider him a pretentious beardy git, but certainly not suspicious!

And of course you can prove that the £10 in your wallet is yours. You have a job, and payslips, etc. What do you think the tax office are asking you to prove at tax return time?

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Joke

Richard Branson?

Oh, I dunno. I reckon that if I were a Customs officer I wouldn't write him off as not suspicious immediately.

You just couldn't let a "rubber glove" opportunity like *that* go begging. It'd be one of the best times to trot out that amusing bottle of Tabasco sauce with the "aqueous lubricant" label stuck on it, while your colleague cues up a Johnny Cash record on the jolly old gramophone.....

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Happy

@TeeCee

Was that an audition for the BOFH's job, perchance...? Nice one!

Although I disagree with your choice of music. "Tubular Bells" might fit more snugly.

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Hmmmm

"...seized the cash under the Proceeds of Crime Act until the men can prove it comes from a legitimate source."

So guilty until proven innocent? I'm sure UK govt tried this kind of thing before, and got a slap from the EU lawyers.

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Currency rules

From the IATA website: http://www.iatatravelcentre.com/GB-United-Kingdom-customs-currency-airport-tax-regulations-details.htm

"Currency rules

Import and Export: local currency (Pound Sterling-GBP) and foreign currencies: no restrictions if arriving from or traveling to another E.U. country.

If arriving directly from or traveling to a country outside the E.U.: amounts exceeding EUR 10,000.- or more or the equivalent in another currency (incl. banker’s draft and cheques of any kind) must be declared."

Notes from HM Revenue & Customs "Cash Declaration" f orm C9011: "Notes on completing this form

You do not need to complete this form if you are travelling to or arriving from another EU country or are carrying less than 10,000 Euros."

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Unhappy

interesting law

"Border agents were sceptical, it would seem, and seized the cash under the Proceeds of Crime Act until the men can prove it comes from a legitimate source."

Nice to see that the old "innocent until proven guilty" is still alive and flourishing in British justice.

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Innocent until proven guilty

There is a misconception here that "innocent until proven guilty" has hitherto always been the case; or more accurately that the Police could not make an arrest until a crime had clearly been committed.

Well, no. People found in suspicious circumstances have always had to show that they were not criminals: people near rivers with poaching gear; people near warehouses equipped with jemmies etc; and (in Scotland at any rate) people with three convictions for theft carrying *unusual* goods with no explanation as to where they came from.

This does not mean that convicted thieves have to carry receipts for everything on their person; but it does mean that someone found at 3am with a bagful of silver has to explain themselves - and if they have no explanation they will be prosecuted. They are indeed innocent until proven guilty, but the circumstances in which they were found still have to be explained. This is sensible, and not at all unusual in law.

Seems to me that carrying half-million into a country is worthy of investigation, and it is not the end of liberty if the authorities take an interest in suspicious behaviour.

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Trophies

I remember many years ago when the secretary of our local chess league got stopped one evening by the police and had to account for the large haul of trophies in the boot of his car. It was around AGM time and he had the job of taking them to the engraver.

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Coat

So they ran into difficulties with the airport authorities

And now need the minor sum of (£750) "SEVEN HUNDRED AND FIFTY POUNDS UK STERLING" to make bail..

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Megaphone

@AC 14:28

"the IR will go through your accounting with a fine tooth-comb..."

How often do *you* comb your teeth, AC Sir or Madam?

Maybe HMRC will go through your accounting with a fine-tooth comb, instead

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Anonymous Coward

Pedant

William Shakespeare had this to say about pedantry:

The brains of a pedant however full, are vacant.

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Happy

HAHA

ISWYDT

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pedant alert

You mean fine-toothed comb i.e. a comb with fine teeth

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Headmaster

Pedantry

"O, tis a precious apothegmatical* Pedant, who will find matter enough to dilate a whole day of the first invention of Fy, fa, fum, I smell the blood of an English-man"(1), quoted with "A Babylonish dialect which learned pedants much affect"(2), knowing full well that "Pedantry is the dotage of knowledge"(3).

* apothegmatic: noun, a concise saying or maxim; an aphorism

1. Thomas Nashe (1567-1601), "Have with you to Saffron-walden", 1596.

2. Samuel Butler (1612-1680), "Hudibras", 1663.

3. Holbrook Jackson (1874-1948), "Anatomy of Bibliomania", 1930.

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Paris Hilton

I demand El Reg follow up with the police!

Dear Reg: please inquire of the appropriate police personnel how they recommend one proves half a million in carry-on luggage was legitimately-gotten when traveling. Don't forget to include in your followup article some special cases, e.g. whether being an MP automatically proves it was criminally obtained, and how best to document the money simply being carrying-around cash for a famous heiress.

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WTF?

Why were we not told?

The 419-folk never mentioned that the TRUE difficulty lay not in getting the monies out of Nigeria, but into the UK!

Doubly buggered!

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Simple answer -- don't visit the Shithole that is the UK.

I can think of better places to buy cheaper goods than the UK, if that's why you'd come here, and we don't really have anything else worth coming here for. Heck, you could even be arrested just for taking pictures of the, generally rather dull, famous buildings we do have.

My advice: spend your money in a country that's less of a shithole -- there are many to choose from throughout Europe (and probably other continents too).

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(Written by Reg staff)

Re: Simple answer -- don't visit the Shithole that is the UK.

I hate to rise to this but really, go somewhere else if you hate it so much.

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Eh?

"I can think of better places to buy cheaper goods than the UK, if that's why you'd come here"

They had $500,000. I don't think it was for a spot of light shopping in London.

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not that easy

I 'went somewhere else'; the process took five years and cost me several thousand CURRENCY_UNITS. Worth it for me, but I can forgive the OP for giving it up as too much effort and having a good old moan instead. After all, it's the British Way.

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FAIL

@Sarah Bee - why should it be necessary?

One of the legs of democracy is dissent and the freedom to express it.

When you look at today's Britain you wonder where all the qualities that made it so great have gone to. Locking up people for not revealing passwords is both unique and pathetic. Police are supposed to be subservient to the government, not running it.

Unless you remove the rose tinted glasses, and get some travel time in you'll see how bad things are.

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FAIL

Jumping to conclusions

>> go elsewhere

What in the post made you think the poster hadn't already gone elsewhere?

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I did*.

Never happier.

I am a fairy. My name...escapes me at the moment.

*Both. Hated it, and went.

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"... go somewhere else..."

Is more easily said than done, as has been mentioned above and, as has also been mentioned above, I shouldn't have to.

That said, given the opportunity (which I hope to have soon) I will leave.

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Troll

To rise to your rise-to

The UK government and their banking buddies ensure we can't afford to leave this shithole.

;o)

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WTF?

Maybe that's where the scammers get their ideas?

My wife is from Zimbabwe, a country that's fallen so far apart that the only currency is the US$. No ATMs, no cards, no credit etc - well at least not when there's no electricity which is >95% of the time. A two week vist there requires taking US$ 3000-4000+ ($10000 might be a better figure for a month) for car hire (including deposit), food, petrol and medical care for her family. Recently Zimbabwe customs (probably some of the most crooked on the planet) have started stealing vistors money claiming it must be from crime. This is of course a problem if you need food, water, transport etc. Sounds familiar.

So, the story of Nigerians bringing cash to the UK doesn't sound implausible. Africa is a cash based continent and >99% of the population (even those with successful and legitimate businesses) don't have bank accounts. Maybe that's why those 411 scams sound credible to the people that create them?

One thing's for certain, the more western governments carry on like tin pot dictatorships (ask yourself if you were in Zimbabwe, how you would prove the £100 in your pocket - a months wages - was earned legitimately, the same is true for an african businessman in the UK), the more opportunities ciminals will have with plasable reasons to handle other people's money.

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Unhappy

Dummies, moving money across borders is a breeze

Most people know there is a USD$10,000 cash limit across borders, courtesy of yet another US 'diplomatic' effort. These guys are dumb - there are literally hundreds of ways to move money but I guess they were too cheap.

I travel, I use well over USD$10,000 per segment of my itinerary but I don't get hassled. Mind you, I am white and not from Nigeria - two factors that most likely caused these guys t be 'subjects of interest'.

They should have asked their country drug dealers to help them, for a commission, as most major drug importation involves international payment settlements!

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