Cash seized at Stansted Airport forfeited

CASH totalling more than 45,000 euros seized at Stansted Airport has been forfeited to Border Force following a hearing at Chelmsford Magistrate’s Court.

Moroccan national Lahoucine Bguiguir, 44, was stopped by Border Force officers as he transferred through Stansted Airport on his way to Morocco from Shannon Airport on October 8 last year.

Mr Bguiguir, who owns takeaway An Teach Bia in Tulla, County Clare, Ireland, initially told officers the only cash he was carrying was in his wallet, but when his bag was searched five envelopes containing 45,500 euros were discovered.

The money was detained under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

Mr Bguiguir subsequently claimed responsibility for 40,000 euros, with the remainder claimed by fellow Moroccan national Ali Souih, Mr Bguiguir’s business partner in the takeaway.

Peter Avery, from Border Force, said: “It was clear that Mr Bguiguir was attempting to remove the money from Ireland in a bid to evade tax.

“If not for the vigilance of our officers at Stansted he would have successfully transferred the cash to Morocco, leaving the Irish authorities none the wiser.

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“Thanks to our actions Mr Bguiguir and Mr Souih have been forced to resubmit tax returns and disclose these additional earning to the Irish tax authorities.”

Mr Bguiguir, who attended Wednesday’s (August 1) court hearing, claimed his money was cash earnings that he had saved over six years, but magistrates dismissed his account.

Mr Souih did not attend the hearing and did not dispute the forfeiture application.

Border Force officers have the power to seize cash in order to recover the proceeds of criminal activity without requiring a criminal conviction.

Individuals whose money is seized will only receive it back if they can provide proof to a court that the money came from a legitimate source.

This is to prevent the money made from criminality being hidden in bank accounts and other assets overseas.

Mr Avery added: “Border Force has a responsibility to investigate cash in excess of �1,000 when we have reasonable grounds to suspect that it is linked to any criminal enterprise and bring this before the court.

“Working with other law enforcement bodies, the UK is now at the forefront of the world-wide crackdown on criminal finances recovering over �1billion since POCA was introduced.”