BVI News

Attorney bats for client’s $107K to be released, minimal fine, and no record of conviction

Warwick James Reid, the Australian who was held at the Beef Island Airport with multiple currencies totalling $107,005.24 has changed his previous ‘not guilty’ pleas to ‘guilty’.

He admitted guilt during his court appearance this week and his attorney Patrick Thompson is now hoping to convince the court to release the monies that are still in police custody.

Thompson told the court that his client was able to tap into his online banking history and produce supporting documents for the said cash.

He explained that the documents involved a withdrawal of €96,700 from an Indonesian bank. This was the largest of the seven different currencies found in the accused man’s possession.

“Those documents do exist,” Thompson told the court.

Reid was eying boat in Martinique

Thompson told the court his client was planning to use the monies to purchase a boat in the French-speaking Caribbean island of Martinique.

However, the deal fell through and the accused was in conversation via email with another man in Antigua to purchase some damaged vessels.

Why the vast sums of cash?

In response to questions about why his client chose to carry the large volume of cash, Thompson said the Indonesian bank had difficulties in doing a wire transfer to Antigua.

Another reason was that he was unsure if his bank card would work in Antigua.

Thompson further explained that his client knew he would need cash on hand to pay for labour and other costs associated with repairing the boats.

“It would be easier for him to have that cash. It’s like going to a market and offering people checks instead of cash,” the attorney argued.

Forfeiture

Thompson reasoned that confiscating the man’s money, therefore, unwarranted. 

“It would be a grave injustice to Mr Reid,” he said.

The attorney then pressed the court to impose a fine significantly less than the maximum penalty for the crimes of ‘untrue declaration’ and ‘failing to declare monies’. The maximum is three times the offender was carrying.

Thompson pointed out that his client is hoping to pay the court-imposed fine from the existing funds if it is not forfeited to the state.

The attorney then argued that special forfeiture hearing should be held if the court is still minded to have the monies forfeited. 

The Crown agreed, saying that the hearing would give members of the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force time to investigate the source of the funds.

My client didn’t roam around Tortola

In the meantime, the defence counsel said his client remained within the confines of the T. B Lettsome International Airport during his overnight tenure in the territory on the day of his arrest.

“He slept at the airport,” Thompson said 

Show mercy

Thompson then implored the court to show his client mercy as he didn’t take the time to read the Customs Declarations Form before ticking ‘no’ to having more than the permitted US $10,000 on him.

Do not record it

Thompson also argued that his client’s name ought not to be smeared by a conviction as it would hamper his ability to travel in certain respects.

Nonetheless, the Crown said it was Reid’s own “carelessness” that landed him before the court.

Furthermore, the Crown counter-argued that as a “global traveller” he should have known that in every jurisdiction, there are rules that must be adhered to.

In response to the argument for not entering a conviction for the Australian, the Crown disagreed, saying that this would send a wrong message to the world.

Commenting on the arguements Magistrate Ayana Baptiste DaBreo noted that Reid reportedly declared the funds in other jurisdictions before arriving into the BVI.

The court then ruled that there were no “exceptional circumstances” that would allow him not to have a criminal record in the territory.

The matter was adjourned to Thursday for sentencing.

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9 Comments

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  1. Bvi people says:

    How can our money be confiscated in foreign but we release and give money back…bvi court system is very very bias and disrespectful against intellectuals and people with brains

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  2. Oh No says:

    I hope all the money is there still. We know that the cookie monster is always putting hands in the cookie jar.
    I am not convinced that he was ignorant of the law to declare the monies since he did declare it in other territories.
    Too often we are viewed as a Territory where the laws can be ignored and indiscretions overlooked.

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  3. Yo says:

    This is wrong why gov trying take the man money this man pass through USA and was cleared he was an intransit passenger wasn’t even staying BVI but that flight got cancelled it was not his fault I hope he brings a lawsuit towards the gov for this bs let the man go with his money

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  4. Charnele says:

    If it was a black man or a man from the Caribbean you would have want the government to keep his man, but because he is not he should get his money back. Bull.

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  5. Shark says:

    The man produced where he obtained the money from.give the man his money let him continue on his way to conduct his business.

  6. Fair Go. says:

    This man has pleaded guilty to the charge. He admits that he didn’t fill out the form correctly. He made a mistake filling out a form when entering a country he had no intention of staying in. The only question to be answered is what is a fair penalty for such a crime? Is being held in a foreign prison for two weeks with limited contact with his wife and two young children enough? If not, what if we add the embarrassment and humiliation of knowing he’s been careless and also appearing in digital media news articles pictured handcuffed being lead by police? Is that enough? What if we add to that a recorded conviction which will make it difficult for him to travel in the future and also work in his field of expertise? If that’s still not enough, what if we add a statutory fine of up to $10k which when added to his legal fees will put a large dent in his cash? If we’re still not there, and he needs to be punished further for his crime, then we should take away his life savings. Pretty simple really.

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