Court ruled in case of monies found in cans of paint

Mr. Michael Bagot, a Guyanese National was intercepted at Springlands Berbice crossing from Suriname on the 12th March 2020. He was found to be in possession of €24, 530.00 (twenty-four thousand, five hundred and thirty Euros), which was concealed in cans of paint.   The Springlands- Berbice crossing is not the official designated immigration point of entry between Guyana and Suriname.

Mr.  Bagot  was  arrested by  Police  for  failure to  present himself to  the Immigration Authorities and failure to declare foreign currency over the prescribed limit set out by the Foreign Exchange (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, Chapter 86:01, Laws of Guyana.

Subsequent  to  his  arrest,  the  Special  Organised  Crime  Unit  (SOCU) approached the Supreme Court for an interim order to detain the sum of €24,530.00 (twenty-four thousand, five hundred and thirty Euros) in accordance with section 37 (2) of the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism Act Chapter 10: 11, Laws of Guyana.

The learned   Chief    Justice, Madame Roxane George, SC    granted     the detention  order for  the  Police  to  lawfully detain the  currency  on the 17th     March,  2020, and   the   Order   was   further   extended  on  the 12th June, 2020 for three (3) months pending  the  hearing  and  determination of the Fixed Date Application.

The Commissioner of Police, through the Chambers of the Attorney General, commenced legal proceedings for the civil forfeiture of the said sum.

Written submissions were made before the Honourable Madame Justice Jo- Ann Barlow. The Court eventually found that based on the manner of concealment of the monies in paint cans, it could be inferred that the monies came from unspecified criminal conduct. Further, Mr. Bagot failed to provide information disclosing the source of the said concealed sum.   In addition, the Court noted that Mr. Bagot, had on previous occasions, exited the jurisdiction from the designated Immigration point however, when he re-entered Guyana, it was through the ‘backtrack’ route.

In light of the foregoing, the Court ruled that the sum, of €24, 530.00 (twenty- four thousand, five hundred and thirty Euros) would be forfeited to the State. There was no Order as to Costs.