Customs reminds the travelling public that they must declare large sums of cash that they are physically carrying in or out of New Zealand, or face the possibility that they may lose it.
Acting Group Manager Investigations and Response Shane Panettiere says it’s a legal requirement that cash in any currency or form must be declared to Customs if it’s equivalent to NZ$10,000 or more.
“This includes physical currencies as well as cheques, travellers cheques, money or postal orders, bills of exchange or any other type of bearer-negotiable instruments,” he says.
“We often find passengers at airports carrying large sums of money – it’s not illegal to do this, but it must be declared to Customs by filling out a border cash report.
“People have legitimate reasons for carrying cash across the border but we need to verify this before letting it go through,” Mr Panettiere says.
“Our role is to ensure that the money is legitimate and is being carried for legitimate purposes, as the movement of large sums of cash can and has been linked to illicit activities and criminal networks.”
Not declaring cash or providing false or misleading information is an offence under the Anti Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) Act and a range of penalties can apply, including fines or prosecution.
Undeclared or misdeclared cash also becomes a prohibited good under the Customs and Excise Act which can result in forfeiture and seizure of the cash.
An Auckland businessman was convicted last Friday for not declaring close to NZ$433,000 that he was taking out of the country in March 2011. This was Customs’ first prosecution under the AML/CFT Act.
Since the AML/CFT Act was enacted in October 2010, Customs has imposed fines totalling $5500 and made 17 individual seizures of undeclared cash totalling close to NZ$1.6 million dollars.