The incident took place on the 16th of November 2013 when a naturalise citizen of the country entered the country carrying excessive amount of cash contrary to the section 2 (3) of the Currency Declaration Act No. 7 of 2009.
Currency Declaration Act is a legislation that provides for the declaration of currency and the seizure detention or forfeiture of currency which is derived from or intended to be used in criminal conduct and for related matters. Section 2 (3) of the Currency Declaration Act provides that ‘any person who fails to declare currency in the prescribed amount to an authorised officer commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding vt5,000,000 or forfeiture of the currency to the state.
During the process of Customs investigation, the defendant cooperated with the investigation and admitted that he forgot declare the currency upon arrival in Port Vila. The court agrees that it is a genuine mistake and taken that the defendant is also a first time offender or at least as far as this type of offence is concerned, however the court insisted that the defendant must still be punished. The court then orders that the defendant pay damages to the state at an amount of vt100,000 and a prosecution cost of vt30,000. The defendant has since paid up the fine and damages to the courts.
Customs has the power under law to detain and question people on any suspicious passengers and goods. All travellers are therefore advised to always declare cash in excess of vt1,000,000 when travelling in and out of the country or face the consequences of the law.