Malta Members of the Customs Department’s newly launched Anti-Money Laundering Team discovered undeclared cash during routine operations at the MIA. Two passengers leaving Malta on the same flight were caught, the department said in a statement.
The two Egyptian nationals were carrying 21,570 euros in several envelopes concealed in their luggage. The passengers were leaving Malta, en route to Egypt via Istanbul, yesterday. and claimed that the money were the salaries of their colleagues. The two passengers were stopped from departing the island and placed under arrest by the Police Economic Crimes Unit pending investigation. Both passengers are expected to be arraigned in court.
According to European law, a passenger carrying more than 10,000 euros in cash is obliged to declare them to Customs before traveling. Failure to do so will result in arrest, a hefty fine, and the seizure of the undeclared cash. This law aims at targeting money laundering, and similar laws have been adopted across the world not just the EU.
The Customs Department said it has invested heavily in targeting undeclared cash during the past two years, and a sharp spike in positive cases has been recorded lately.
It emerged that Egy was carrying €10,933 and Elkhaniny €10,700. The defendants’ lawyer, Charlon Gouder pleaded guilty, arguing amongst other things that the amounts had been in sealed envelopes given to them by several individuals to transport to family members back home, which meant that they could not have known the exact totals.
The court, however, noted that the Cash Control Regulations gave it no leeway in terms of punishment and that the punishment in this case was draconian – confiscation of the amount over €10,000 together with a fine of 25% of the total amount being carried.
Elkhaniny was therefore fined €2,675 and had another €700 confiscated, whilst Egy was fined €2,733 and had €933 confiscated.
The men’s lawyer gave notice of appeal.