CBP has preclearance centers which are basically the same as customs in the United States, but just located in a foreign country; this is to facilitate travel and enforcement of the laws. One such law enforced at preclearance centers is the requirement to report more than $10,000 being transported into the United States. CBP has pre-clearance in the Bahamas.
Over the weekend, Customs seized $45,000 in Nassau from one or more people for failing to report currency over $10,000, and tweeted a picture of the seizure:
#CBP officers seized more than $45K in unreported currency at Nassau #Preclearance in one day. pic.twitter.com/xMjFjSoSYh
— CBP (@CustomsBorder) November 21, 2015
This was responded to by a tweet that made me smile: “What are you going to do with it?” Classic! CBP has not responded (in fact, they may have deleted the tweet?). But here’s our answer so you will know what customs does with seized cash. I went ahead and explained that customs does not always keep seized currency if the person can prove it came from a legitimate source and had a legitimate intended use by responding to the notice of seizure:
@noti_fut @CustomsBorder CBP sometimes doesn’t keep it all, but has to give it back once it’s shown to be lawfully earned. — GreatLakesCustomsLaw (@customsattorney) November 21, 2015
Which caused another person to ask:
@customsattorney @noti_fut @CustomsBorder If you declare more than $9999, do you have to prove you lawfully earned the money as well? — D’ericka Henrie (@Citizen_DH) November 21, 2015
I responded that the best answer is is probably “Sometimes” and that the reporting requirement is actually “more than $10,000” not $10,000. Remember, I say sometimes because even if you make the an accurate report the money is still subject to seizure for other reasons, such as a suspicion that it is connected to money laundering or some criminal activity.
I suspect this Nassau customs cash confiscation of $45,000 is the result of more than one currency seizure for failure to report. That’s because the picture cash in the picture does not appear to add up to $45,000, but somewhere around $30,000 (assuming each stack is $1,000).
Don’t forget to follow Great Lakes Customs Law on Twitter!