Philly CBP Provides On-Site Mitigatation for Reporting Violation after Currency Seizure

Coming out of the Philadelphia airport, CBP has another news release dealing this time with a currency seizure based on a structuring violation and failure to report by U.S. Customs and Border Protection :

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) at Philadelphia International Airport assessed a $1,000 penalty to an Italian citizen Tuesday for violating federal currency reporting requirements. During a secondary inspection, the man, who arrived from Italy, reported possessing $11,700. It was later discovered that the man had given money to two co-travelers in order to evade currency reporting requirements, an illegal practice known as currency structuring. In total the cash added up to $24,644. CBP officers seized the money, issued the man a $1,000 penalty, and then returned the remaining cash back to the man.

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“Customs and Border Protection officers offer travelers multiple opportunities to truthfully report their currency, but those who refuse to comply with federal currency reporting requirements face severe consequences, such as hefty penalties, having their currency seized, or potential criminal charges,” said Allan Martocci, port director for the Area Port of Philadelphia. “The easiest way to keep your currency is to truthfully report it.”

International travelers who arrive or depart the United States in possession of more than $10,000 or equivalent foreign currency are required to report all currency to CBP officers and complete a Treasury Department Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) form.

So Customs’ determined that man was in transporting $24,644, but he had given $12,944 to two people with whom he was traveling. As explained in the article linked above, it is illegal to structuring a transaction to avoid filing the currency reporting requirement. From the facts as narrated, it almost looks as though the man did voluntarily report traveling with more than $10,000 ($11,700), but mis-reported the amount by failing to disclose the remaining $12,994 that his “co-travelers” were carrying. I think that the argument could be made that there was no structuring violation if he did file the report; just a violation to accurately report the amount of money that was being transported. That’s a tricky, technical argument to make, though. Never put yourself in that situation.

On the bright side for this individual, he was able to get his money back on the scene – he did not have to go through the petition process, and its inherent delays, to get the seized money back. As far as I am aware, on-scene mitigation is only available to those persons who are transporting less than $25,000, and who mis-report an amount that is 5% or less in variance with the actual amount being transported. I am not sure how this case qualified for on-scene mitigation because the mis-report was greater than 5%, but this gentleman should consider himself lucky.

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.