MANILA, Philippines–Customs officials on Thursday night intercepted three Japanese nationals at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport for allegedly failing to declare the millions of cash in their possession.
According to Verne Enciso, chief of the Naia Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service (NAIA-CIIS), Yuzo Suzuki, Koichi Takahashi and Seita Terashima arrived on board Japan Airlines flight JAL 745 at around 9:45 p.m.
Found in the possession of the passengers were 88 million Yen and US$170,000, or roughly P45 million in total.
Further inspection of the suspects’ luggage led to the discovery of some P1.5 million worth of casino ships.
Enciso said the Japanese nationals were intercepted following a tip from the Japan International Customs Office that the suspects were carrying huge amount of money.
Upon passing through the Customs counter, the suspects were reportedly escorted by a member of the NAIA Airport Police Department (APD), and two other civilians identified as Mary Grace Portuguez and Renoglenn Nolasco.
Portuguez and Nolasco reportedly used airport visitor’s pass requested by another member of the APD.
During interrogation, the Japanese men, through an interpreter, claimed they were doing business in the Philippines.
“They said they have transactions here in the Philippines involving copper business and business process outsourcing,” Enciso said, adding that they are now coordinating with their counterparts in Japan to determine if the suspects are members of a syndicate.
The Customs official added that based on the Japanese men’s passport records, it was not the first time they visited the Philippines.
Enciso said the three Japanese men were charged with violating Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Circular No. 507, which requires domestic and foreign travelers to declare foreign currency equivalent to $10,000 when entering or leaving the Philippines, and the Tariff and Customs Code of the Philippines.
Enciso added that Portuguez and Nolasco were also included in the charge sheet.
“With regards to the APD personnel, their participation was mentioned in the report and it will now be up to the discretion of the Prosecutor’s Office if they will be included in the case,” he said.