BVI News

Elderly visitor held with cash at airport changes plea to guilty

Accused visitor Arturo Basantes of Ecuador.

The elderly Ecuadorian visitor recently held at the TB Lettsome International Airport with more than half-million dollars has confessed to the crime.

Arturo Basantes had originally pleaded not guilty to engagement in smuggling, failing to declare monies to Customs, and possession of proceeds of criminal conduct.

But, while claiming to be poor health and in need of a ‘quick trial’, Basantes changed all his pleas to ‘guilty’ when he made his second appearance in the Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday, August 15.

Basantes is now scheduled to be sentenced on August 22.

Defence attorney Stephen Daniels is representing the 72-year-old offender.

The Crown’s case

The elderly man was caught carrying $577,830 in predominantly $20 and $10 notes. That sum is more than fifty times the $10,000 legal amount allowed to a single traveller.

Among the money were 18 counterfeit $20 bills and one fake $10 bill.

Basantes, who said he is a pig farmer and shoe store owner, claims the cash was to purchase a vessel in the territory.

According to the Crown, Basantes arrived in the territory on July 25 and was due to depart a day later.

While attempting to leave the territory via the TB Lettsome International Airport, authorities became suspicious when he passed through the airport’s security checkpoint.

Images on their computer screen showed what appeared to be a ‘large’ amount of cash among his belongings, and upon further examination, their suspicions were confirmed.

Basantes was at the time carrying a laptop bag and two blue suitcases with one change of clothing.

He has been in custody since.

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  1. Really says:

    What the heck was he smuggling?

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  2. Well.. says:

    That money could fix a school or few.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Ok so how is this smuggling. The man brings cash to buy a boat and doesn’t know he has to declare the cash. Looks to me like the BVI Government is the one stealing. It’s ok for the BVI to assist tax evaders by helping them to hide millions in offshore accounts but this guy is a criminal. You all need to take a look inward. “The pot calling the kettle black”

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  4. Joel fobres says:

    Its not a crime to have that money

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    Dislike 1
  5. LMAO says:

    Are there really laws that limit the amount of cash one can depart with? It’s another mattter if he arrived and failed to disclose the money. Right?

  6. BVI says:

    Give the man back his money and let him return home. The man came with his money to buy a boat, things did not work out and he was returning home with his cash. He did not smuggle anything or steal anything thing from the bvi. You looking money to recover, look inside your cabinet where minister took millions of tax payers money and build and expand businesses inside and outside of the bvi, bought real estate in the usa and other countries, bought luxary boat, sailing all over the world, some of them was seen sporting in panama on their luxary boat during december.

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  7. Umm says:

    Why they arrest this man?!!!! Just let him declare the money and let him go?!!

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  8. X police says:

    Let the man go whit a fine there’s no wrong doing

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  9. Anonymous says:

    Let the man go whit a fine there’s no wrong doing

    Like 1
    Dislike 1

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