The owner of a truck and trailer in which duffel bags containing US currency were concealed in a shipment of plywood has failed in his court bid to get them back.
Justice Eleanor Donaldson-Honeywell last Thursday denied leave to the owner, who sought to challenge the seizure and detention of the vehicles by the Comptroller of Customs.
On November 6, 2016, Customs and Excise officers stopped a truck and trailer that was attempting to leave the Point Lisas port containing bundles of plywood. Concealed within the plywood, the officers found and seized US$2,216,100. The plywood arrived four days earlier aboard a container carrier. The money was forfeited to the State.
In his application to have the court review the decision by Customs to hold on to the truck and trailer, the vehicles’ owner said he was hired to receive and deliver a shipment at the port. He also insisted he was an independent contractor and was unaware of the contents of the shipping container.
He said when he got to the port, he went to the area where the shipment was loaded and as he was leaving he was stopped by a Customs officer. He was told to drive the trailer to the CES station at the Customs building in Point Lisas, where he was interviewed by the Financial Investigations Bureau.
He was then notified that the truck and trailer would be seized by Customs. He hired an attorney, who wrote to the Comptroller of Customs in an attempt to retrieve his truck and trailer, but was told his notice of recovery fell outside the one-month period for a claim, and as a result, the trailer was deemed to be condemned.
In her ruling, Donaldson-Honeywell said the owner failed to satisfy the court that he had arguable grounds for judicial review with a realistic prospect of success, and the court was satisfied that his case was wholly unmeritorious. The owner was represented by attorneys Jagdeo Singh, Keil Tacklalsingh and Karina Singh while Roshan Ramcharitar, Rachel Theophilus and Diane Katwaroo appeared for the Comptroller of Customs.