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BVI Customs Seizes $250,000 In Cash Over ‘The Last Few Months’


BVI Customs Commissioner Wade Smith

ROAD TOWN, Tortola, BVI – At least $250,000 has been recovered by British Virgin Islands customs officials within the last few months for failing to properly declare the funds at the territory’s sea and air ports, according to Commissioner of Customs Wade Smith.

Smith told the BVI News that the majority of the money was destined for the Dominican Republic.

“In the past few months, we would have detained in excess of $250,000 – that’s between 14 to 20 individuals,” Smith said. “Most of the travelers have been traveling to Dominican Republic.”

Despite a public appeal that travelers abide by the law and declare funds in excess of $10,000, Smith said his department continued to seize monies that were not properly declared at ports of entry and departure.

“We have conducted joint investigations with the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force,” he said. “Some of the travelers missed their flights as a result, because we needed to verify the source of the funds – make sure it was gained legitimately.”

Most of the investigations conducted so far, he said, have found that the funds detained were gained legitimately. However, investigations are still ongoing in some cases.

“Thus far, the investigation has been proven to be legitimate,” Smith said. “There are still some funds that are currently detained, and those funds are under investigations.”

Smith said that he is not in favor of the notion that the upper limit of $10,000 for declaration should be increased.

“At this time, I would say no [to the suggestion],” he said. “The bar that is set currently is set in accordance with international standards. To increase that, in my opinion, could create a loophole or a way to launder money. By increasing it, you could have groups of people participating in terms of moving funds together, and there could be a form of laundering money.”

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The Author

John McCarthy

John McCarthy

John McCarthy is primarily known for his investigative reporting on the U.S. Virgin Islands. A series of reports beginning in the 1990's revealed that there was everything from coliform bacteria to Cryptosporidium in locally-bottled St. Croix drinking water, according to a then-unpublished University of the Virgin Islands sampling. Another report, following Hurricane Hugo in 1989, cited a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) confidential overview that said that over 40 percent of the U.S. Virgin Islands public lives below the poverty line. The Virgin Islands Free Press is the only Caribbean news source to regularly incorporate the findings of U.S. Freedom of Information Act requests. John's articles have appeared in the BVI Beacon, St. Croix Avis, San Juan Star and Virgin Islands Daily News. He is the former news director of WSVI-TV Channel 8 on St. Croix.

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