New Zealand Customs officers said Tuesday they have seized 700,000 Renminbi (113,644 U.S. dollars) from a man who was attempting to smuggle the cash out of the country to Hong Kong.
Auckland man Xiaosheng Yu, 59, was convicted in Auckland District Court Tuesday of attempting to take the cash out of the country without declaring it.
He was fined 800 NZ dollars (653 U.S. dollars) and forfeited the cash, said a statement from Customs.
Yu was about to board a flight to Hong Kong at Auckland Airport on Nov. 13, 2012, with his wife and a friend, when a Customs cash detector dog sniffed cash in his wife's carry-on bag.
It was the first time a cash detector dog had made such a find in New Zealand.
A baggage search of the trio revealed newspaper-wrapped bundles of cash in two carry-on bags, and more in a checked-in suitcase.
When interviewed, Yu explained through a translator that the money was his legal income in China, and would be used to pay a mortgage on a property in Hong Kong.
Yu had brought the money to New Zealand over a number of years and admitted at times he had not declared the cash as it made things difficult because he didn't speak English, and it would also cause Customs to check on him every time he traveled.
Customs manager investigations Maurice O'Brien said everyone was legally required to declare cash of 10,000 NZ dollars (8,161 U. S. dollars) or more regardless of currency or form.
"It's not illegal to carry large sums of cash but it must be declared so we can verify that the money is legitimate and for legitimate purposes," O'Brien said in the statement.
"Movement of cash can and has been linked to money laundering and organized crime this is why we treat the matter so seriously. Those who don't declare their cash face prosecution, and/or lose their money on top of it," O'Brien said.