How Not to Smuggle Cash

If you're going to smuggle more than half a million US dollars into mainland China, you'd best know how to keep your cool, otherwise you'll lose the lot.

Such was the case when a man tried to cross the border at Sha Tau Kok at midnight. Customs officers noticed him acting suspiciously and when they ordered him to open his suitcase he made a ran for it.

Border police tackled him at Chung Ying Street, a fair distance from the immigration control point, which is impressive when you consider they found stacks of US$100 bills wrapped in plastic and taped to his legs and torso. That's a lot of extra weight to be lugging about.

Cash smuggler

It added up to US$580,000 (about HK$4.5 million), which is quite a haul.

Cash smuggler caught

In Cantonese one might view his body language as jiu lui (焦慮), which means anxious, worried, or apprehensive.

Under Chinese law visitors can only bring up to US$5,000 in foreign currency without making a customs declaration; those violating the law face stiff penalties. In February a Hong Kong resident was slapped with a fine of nearly HK$1 million for trying to smuggle HK$5.5 million in cash into China to buy a house; he later claimed that he didn't wire the funds so he could save the five per cent bank commission. In other words, he gambled and lost, forking over almost a million instead of paying the $275,000 service charge.

The Chinese state news agency characterised this latest smuggling attempt as "extraordinarily serious", used to describe the "most serious level of offence", which in China could mean dire consequences. That doesn't necessarily mean they'll execute him, but he's facing more than a mere fine. There was no word on whether the man was trying to smuggle his own money or was hired to do it, but either way it's clear he was the wrong man for the job.

No wonder he's burying his face in his hands.

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Big White Guy is the personal web site of Randall van der Woning, who hails from Canada but has lived in Hong Kong with his wife Mabel for the past 15 years. Randall is a photographer, photography teacher, and writer.

Seriously ... Big White Guy? The nickname was given in Canada but was shortened to BWG, because this wouldn't be the Internet if we didn't initialise everything.

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