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Record fine for money laundering on St. Maarten


St. Maarten – Angel Arencibia-Gallo, a 41-year-old Cuban living in Miami was hit with a record 37,850 guilders fine, a 6-month conditional prison sentence and 2 years of probation by the Common Court of Justice yesterday for money laundering. In May, the Court in First Instance acquitted the defendant of money laundering and sentenced him only for not reporting the $21,000 in cash he was carrying on his person when he arrived at the Princess Juliana International airport on March 18, 2012. The Lower Court sentenced Arencibia-Gallo to a 4,000-guilders fine. The fine the Appeals Court imposed yesterday equals the amount of money in dollars the defendant brought to St. Maarten.

When Arencibia-Gallo arrived at the airport, he carried two packages of $10,000 each, existing of $100 banknotes. When customs officers quizzed him, he said he only had $1,028 in his wallet. Customs however found one package of $10,000 in the man’s back pocket, and a second package hidden in his suitcase.

Benjamins, as 100-dollar bills are commonly known, are often used by criminal organizations. “Paying with such banknotes is seldom accepted in stores,” the court noted in its ruling. It added that the amount of money, the banknote-value and the way the defendant carried the cash are all factors that make it reasonable for customs to demand an explanation about the source of the money.

Arencibia-Gallo first said that he had taken the money from several of his bank accounts and that the rest came from Disarama, a company owned by his girlfriend. In the Court in First Instance the defendant said that the money stemmed from his employer Blackstone.

The court noted that the defendant did not substantiate his statements about the money’s origin with documents. The investigation revealed that Arencibia-Gallo did not take money out of his bank accounts or that Blackstone deposited money in his accounts.

Source: Today Newspaper, St. Maarten

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