Tears in the dock as court seizes undeclared cash

The man, who was transiting Malta, said the money were his life savings which he was returning home ot his family

(File Photo)
(File Photo)

An air passenger in transit to Amman wept in the dock this morning as a court seized what he said were his family savings, leaving him with less than €2,000, for failing to declare them to customs.

Dual Irish-Iraqi national Aly Hussein Alzubaidy, 47, was arraigned in court this afternoon after failing to declare that he had been carrying over €34,220 in cash at Malta International Airport.

Under Subsidiary Legislation 233.07 (Cash Controls Regulation), it is a requirement for passengers to declare all amounts of cash over €10,000 to Customs upon arrival or departure.

Legal aid lawyer Martin Fenech said it was obvious that it was not a case of money laundering, but money which he was saving and which he was bringing back to his family. “He had told the authorities the truth – these are his family’s life savings, coming from a legitimate source. It was in the bank - he was saving it. He took it out to bring to his family.”

But a police officer and customs officer both testified that the man had declared himself to be carrying just €8,000 as he was stopped for a random currency check.

From the witness stand, the accused told the court: “I just came to Malta for transit for four hours, I didn’t see any sign. They asked if I had money and I said yes. It was money for my family.”

Fenech said that the man was pleading guilty.

Alzubaidy was aware of the penalty, he said, but asked the court to consider the accused’s position.

Magistrate Caroline Farrugia Frendo confiscated the excess €24,021 and fined the man €8,555.

Inspector Lianne Bonello prosecuted.

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