A May15th news release from Customs & Border Protection details a recent money seizure in Baltimore. The release says that Customs officer’s seized $11,400 in unreported currency from a Ghanian man for failure to file a currency report. I will quote this one in full, and and providing my own commentary interspersed in bold below:
Baltimore – U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers at Baltimore Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI) seized $11,400 Tuesday from a Ghanaian man for violating federal currency reporting regulations.
The passenger, who arrived to BWI from London and was destined for Greenbelt, Md., repeatedly declared possessing only $9,500. While examining the passenger’s luggage, CBP officers discovered $11,661 in U.S. currency, and foreign currency with a domestic value of $768.
Three things here: First, Customs policy is to return foreign currency at the time of seizure.
Second, people do not realize that because of the way the laws are written, transporting less than $10,000, if done intentionally to evade the reporting requirement, can be a structuring violation and subject your money to seizure and you to criminal charges.
Third, if you are bringing in more than $10,000, you can still get your money seized if you file a report and are unable to demonstrate legitimate source and legitimate intended use. Bank statements, tax returns, and travel plans are some thing that can be used to avoid seizure. For example, someone who’s taking $460,000 out of the country that is drug proceeds is not going to be able to keep the money just because he or she filed a report that they were transporting more than $10,000. That is why they try to smuggle the money in and out.
There is no limit to how much currency travelers can import or export; however, federal law requires travelers to report amounts exceeding $10,000 in U.S. dollars or equivalent foreign currency.
And as you can see, if Customs thinks that you are carrying more than you are telling them they can search you to find out.
CBP officers seized $11,400 and returned $261 in U.S. currency and all of the foreign currency to the passenger for humanitarian relief. CBP officers also advised the traveler how to petition for the return of his seized currency.
This is the petition process, discussed in our article on responding to a customs currency seizure. This is a petition that must be filed with Fines, Penalties and Forfeitures at the port once you have received a notice of seizure. Our office can prepare and file this document for you.
“Travelers who refuse to comply with federal currency reporting requirements run the risk of having their currency seized, and may potentially face criminal charges,” said Ricardo Scheller, CBP port director for the Port of Baltimore. “The traveler was given multiple opportunities to truthfully declare his currency. The easiest way to hold on to your money is to report it.”
As we previously discussed in a commentary, refusing to comply with the reporting requirement is not the only way to get your currency seized. But it certainly is one way.
If you have had currency seized from Customs do not try to respond yourself but hire our firm, because we know what we are doing and have successfully handled many cases like yours. If you have questions, please give us a call at (734) 855-4999.