SARS R78 million Airport Cash Bust

Johannesburg – They [smugglers] had cash stashed in 11 pieces of luggage including four backpacks – R78 million destined for the United Arab Emirates.

But eagle-eyed customs officials at OR Tambo International Airport were on to them and confiscated the bags with R23m and $3.775m in notes.

On the same day, R50m worth of cocaine stashed in hair product bottles was seized at the same airport, in one of the biggest crime-busting days at OR Tambo.

On Monday, SA Revenue Service (Sars) officials said five people had been arrested after being caught with the undeclared cash as they were about to leave South Africa.

“Risk profiling earlier by Sars custom officials identified the passengers, and led to their apprehension as they boarded the aircraft at 9.45pm.

“Upon noticing the officials, the passengers retreated and headed back to the entrance of the boarding gate. At this point, officials closed the boarding gate door and the passengers were compelled to wait for the Sars officials,” Sars said.

When asked whether they had any currency, one of the passengers apparently said he had R100 000 and that the other members of the group had currency with them.

“The five individuals were escorted back to immigration at international arrivals, booked back into South Africa and escorted to customs.”

Sars spokesperson Luther Lebelo said the bags with the cash had been handed over to the SA Reserve Bank.

“The matter has been handed over to the SA Reserve Bank for further investigations. Once the bank is satisfied that there is an element of criminality, they can take the matter to the police,” he said.

The arrests on Friday – details of which were released on Tuesday – followed a R50m drug bust at the airport. National police spokesman Brigadier Vishnu Naidoo said the consignment of cocaine, weighing about 143kg, was one of the largest drug recoveries at a South African port of entry.

“The drugs were hidden in 147 hair products bottles and were found during a routine inspection at the cargo section. The consignment arrived from Brazil, and information displayed on the cargo indicated it was in transit to Cotonou, Benin, in West Africa,” he said.

Other drug busts at OR Tambo over the past month include:

  • The confiscation of 60 000 Viagra tablets with a street value of R6m at the airport’s mailing centre.
  • Cocaine weighing 3.46kg and valued at R993 020, found in the backpack of a passenger in transit from Sao Paulo and headed for Lagos, Nigeria.
  • Sixty-five packages of crystal meth valued at R4.2m, confiscated while being loaded into a bakkie in the cargo area.
  • Heroin valued at R201 810 destined for Spain and Ireland, discovered along with 2kg of cannabis at the airport’s mailing centre.

Source: The Star

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Top 10 Most Used Currencies In The World

China Daily reports that China’s yuan surpassed the Swiss franc to become the seventh most-used currency in the world in January based on data provided by the global transaction services organization SWIFT.

The top 10 are:
1. US dollar
2. European euro
3. UK pound sterling
4. Japanese yen
5. Canadian dollar
6. Australian dollar
7. Chinese yuan
8. Swiss franc
9. Singapore dollar
10. Hong Kong Dollar

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EAC Common Market – from the pot into the fire?

EAC Heads of State sign historic Common Market Protocol

Kenyan Finance Minister Njeru Githae has said that the East African member states are going to meet the December 31 deadline for the signing of the monetary union protocol despite skepticism over the issue. He said that out of the 100 articles on the monetary union, 85 have been agreed upon therefore, he said, he is optimistic that the deal will be signed by the set date. “We are learning from mistakes of the eurozone and we have decided to come up with harmonisation of methodology for statistics such as inflation rate, interest rates and the penalties for the countries that do not comply,” explained Githae on Friday. “We have also agreed on the amount of budget deficit that is acceptable and countries that do not meet the set mark will also face penalties.” Comment: What on earth will penalties for not setting the mark achieve – those unfortunate countries will not have the money to foot the debt let alone penalties, plunging the rest of the common market into fiscal anxiety?

However, the minister cautioned that the signing of the protocol will not immediately result in change of currency to adopt one for all the member states but would rather give the road map to implementation of a single currency. The monetary union was slated as the next step to regional integration after the EAC Customs Union in 2005 and a Common Market in protocol signed in 2010. The monetary integration was to help member states co-operate in economic and fiscal matters aimed at reducing the costs and risks of doing business across the boundaries. When fully implemented and a single currency is later introduced as a result, the EAC partner states would achieve removal of the costs of having to transact in different currencies and the risk of adverse exchange rate movements for traders and travelers. Source: The Star (Kenya)