Last Updated on Monday, 1 December 2014, 23:21 by GxMedia
A United States-based Guyanese owner of an executive jet service was Monday granted US$100,000 bail on a charge of bulk-cash smuggling in Puerto Rico.
Mr. Khamraj Lall was granted bail by Judge Marcus Lopez in Court 10 in the US District Court of Puerto Rico, his lawyer, Rafael Castro-Lang and a spokeswoman for the Department of Justice’s office told Caribbean News Desk.
However, he will not be allowed to leave that US dependency.
His jet and the US$620,000 which was stashed inside the same aircraft will remain in the custody of Homeland Security.
A court date has not been fixed. Lall would be informed of the date through his lawyer.
Lall was arrested on November 22 after he allegedly gave federal agents varying amounts of cash that he had had in his possession.
President Donald Ramotar has travelled overseas on Lall’s executive jet several times. Authorities at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport have confirmed that a huge private hanger there was built with the approval of Cabinet to accomodate the planes for executive use and medical evacuations. The hangar’s private entrance has raised concerns in some quarters about the ease of access without scrutiny by customs, police and the Customs Anti Narcotics Unit (CANU).
The plane stopped in Puerto Rico to re- fuel and then continue with a trip to the city of Georgetown, in the South American country of Guyana, according to information from the electronic file of the Federal Court.
It was reported that Customs officers asked the detainee to declare the cash he was carrying. However, Lall, who was traveling with his father and the pilot of the aircraft, initially reported only US$5,000 between him and his father, but in a second report said the two had US$12,000.
However, a team of federal agents found that indeed had more cash on the plane. US authorities require that sums are reported in cash over $ 10,000.
On closer inspection of the plane, officers found US $150,000 first “wrapped in plastic bags and a blanket near an exit,” according to the statement of the federal agent. Lall said he did not remember having that amount and said they were from his business.
Subsequently, in a compartment near a motor, several black garbage bags with other $ 470,000 were found. Lall said that all the money was his. He said his father and the pilot knew nothing about the high amount of cash carried in the aircraft.