When US Customs in Puerto Rico found the US$620,000 in cash stashed on the Guyana bound private jet, the owner Guyanese businessman and pilot Khamraj Lall declared that he had forgotten that the money was on the plane.
Court documents seen by News Source are shedding more light on the cash bust in the Spanish speaking island. According to the criminal complaint, Lall, his father and the pilot arrived in Puerto Rico for a fuel stop on the night of November 22 while on their way to Guyana from the United States, but it wasn’t until the next morning that the US authorities discovered the hidden cash on the private jet.
When the aircraft bearing tail number N822QL, arrived in the island on November 22, Lall who was the co-pilot was told that there would have to be an inspection of the aircraft. He was told that all money should be declared and he and his father initially declared US$5000 while the pilot declared US$60.
According to the court documents, the sniffer dog was immediately alerted to something in the aircraft but the customs agents were unable to pinpoint what it was because of the large number of cargo items on the plane.
During a check of the aircraft itself, some maintenance discrepancies were found and Lall was told that the aircraft would have to be grounded under Federal Aviation Authority instructions until the issues were looked at. The businessman and pilot told the agents that he would have his mechanic fly into the island to check on the problems.
The next morning, November 23, Lall informed the customs agents that the issues with the aircraft were fixed and it was ready for another inspection before departing for Guyana.
Again the agents asked about the declaration of money and this time Lall declared US$7000 while his father declared US$5000 and the pilot declared the $60 he had in his possession.
The sniffer dog was taken on the aircraft again and it was then that a black garbage bag was found folded up under the exit seat of the plane. When agents opened the bag, they discovered US$150,000 in cash. Lall was asked about the money and he told the agents that it was money from his businesses and he had forgotten that he had the money on the plane. The dog continued with its sniffing and a black suitcase was found stashed in a compartment next to the engines of the plane.
In that suitcase, a number of garbage bags of cash was discovered. In total, the agents found US$470,000 in the bags in the suitcase. At that stage, Lall said that all of the money belonged to him and that his father and the pilot were both unaware of the large sum of cash.
He was arrested and faces charges of bulk cash smuggling.
News Source understands that the man’s many trips in his private jet between Guyana and the United States may have raised some eyebrows. Sources close to the Cheddi Jagan Airport report that Lall made several trips per month and would be accorded VIP access whenever he arrived in Guyana. There are also reports that on most occasions his aircraft was not searched by Guyana Customs Officers.
Additionally the man recently constructed a private hangar and executive lounge at Guyana’s Cheddi Jagan Airport. Lall operated a petrol service business and a limousine rental service in Guyana in addition to his Executive Jet rental service.
Filed: 27th November 2014