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Hot cash lands traveller in cell when Customs officials refuse dollar bribe

08 June 2018 - 10:04 By Timeslive
OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg.
OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg.

Three Customs officers turned down a bribe of US$30‚000 (close to R390‚000) this week‚ offered by a passenger they had apprehended at Johannesburg's OR Tambo International Airport.

The passenger‚ who was travelling to Dubai‚ was removed from his flight before take-off for questioning on Tuesday after he was flagged by the South African Revenue Service's risk unit‚ Sars disclosed on Friday.

He was carrying an extremely heavy backpack‚ which aroused suspicion. "On the way to the customs search area he repeatedly offered two Customs officers 'bundles of currency' in return for allowing him to leave with his backpack. Both refused this request. They were then joined by a Customs manager in the interview room and the passenger again offered them all 'bundles of currency' in order to secure his release‚" said Sars.

The offer was increased to US$30‚000 and was consistently refused by the Customs officials in the interview room.

The entire interaction - including searching of his bag which contained US$334‚895 (over R4-million) - was captured on CCTV cameras in the Customs control room.

A criminal case was registered with the SAPS for attempted bribery‚ false declaration and failure to declare. The passenger was remanded into custody. In a second incident on the same day‚ another male passenger bound for Dubai was also intercepted at ORTIA for being in possession of undeclared currency.

Customs officers found the equivalent of more than R600‚000 in US dollars and Pakistani Rupees hidden in his laptop bag. He is facing a charge of "failure to declare".