Judge rules on man’s hidden R1.4mComment on this story
Cape Town - The outcome of the ongoing court battle over exchange control regulations between billionaire IT entrepreneur Mark Shuttleworth and the Reserve Bank will determine whether a Nigerian man, alleged to be trading in foreign currency, will be prosecuted.
This emerged in a recent application which the Asset Forfeiture Unit took to the Western Cape High Court for a preservation order for foreign currency, mainly US dollars, to the value of R1.4 million.
Shuttleworth’s case stems from a R250 million levy he had to pay to get some of his assets out of the country in 2009. He wants to have a section of the Currency and Exchange Act and South Africa’s entire exchange control system declared unconstitutional.
Warrant Officer Errol Wildschudt said in an affidavit he had been on the lookout for the Nigerian man, Wilson Chidozie Uzuegbunam, for several months after he noticed him fly in and out of Cape Town regularly.
In May last year, after receiving a tip-off, Wildschudt approached Uzuegbunam at Cape Town International Airport. He was destined for Nigeria, via Joburg.
One of his bags had been checked in directly to Nigeria and Wildschudt had the bag searched.
Inside were clothing items – and a Johnsons baby powder container and several Radox bath salt containers, containing bundles of cash, mostly US dollars, wrapped in paper.
Uzuegbunam allegedly told Wildschudt he regularly carried his cash like this because he was afraid of being robbed.
However, Wildschudt said the fact that Uzuegbunam had checked in the bag directly to Nigeria indicated he did not intend declaring it in Joburg.
Wildschudt found Uzuegbunam worked for Bennies Gold in the Cape Town CBD, and that he buys and sells gold in Nigeria.
Uzuegbunam travelled between Cape Town and Nigeria nine times in the four months before the search. This indicated he regularly carried cash out of South Africa without declaring it.
Acting Judge Gayaat Salie-Samuels granted the AFU a preservation order, allowing it to attach the cash.