IRS seeks $7.5M from cash jet pilot
August 8, 2015 | By KNews | Filed Under News
Lall has been convicted of bulk cash smuggling in Puerto Rico but was arrested last month and a slew of new charges laid.
Out on bail awaiting sentencing in October for his cash smuggling guilty plea, he was suddenly arrested last month and refused bail.
Now, prosecutors are not only accusing him of cocaine smuggling from Guyana – some five kilogrammes of it, but says he deliberately structured deposits into several banks accounts, totally US$7.5M between August 2011 and November 2014.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has joined the prosecutors in moving to recover the US$7.5M. They want his two planes, a Lexus van, and properties he owns in New York, New Jersey and Florida and some US$442,000 he holds in several accounts.
The Puerto Rico court has already ordered his bail be withdrawn and he be held in custody.
In the IRS complaint unsealed this week, a special agent who was investigating Lall’s financial banking records painted a picture of the pilot going all out not to alert authorities that he was dealing in dirty money.
Under US tax laws, a cash transaction over US$10,000 must be reported using special forms to the IRS – the tax authorities. When he had initially appeared Puerto Rico last year, moves were made in New Jersey by IRS to seize his properties.
The unsealed court documents yesterday spoke of how investigators viewed surveillance videos at the banks and saw the pilot and a relative depositing cash under US$10,000 on numerous occasions, in what is known as structuring transactions – designed to not to alert the authorities.
Of the US$7.5M deposited, some US$7.1M was placed into 16 bank accounts and three credit accounts at JP Morgan, Wells Fargo and Citibank, in Lall’s name, in his children’s accounts and that of his relatives. Another US$367,000 was structured to accounts of third parties with whom the pilot was doing business with.
On some days, he deposited as much as US$60,000 into the accounts. In November 2014 alone, 37 deposits were made totaling $218,000. He was warned by JP Morgan in October 2013 that his transactions were illegal and fell into a pattern that was not in keeping with regulations. But the pilot persisted. He continued over next year to conduct 527 transactions amounting US$3.3M – none were over US$10,000.
He used the monies to purchase, improve and operate his private aircraft, and buy real estate. The unrelated third party bank accounts were used to acquire business assets.
IRS said in the complaint that they want back the US$7.5M, and if the cash and assets they found were not enough, they would be going after others he owned.
Some US$442,000 he had sitting in accounts at the time of his arrests last year were frozen and this will be forfeited.
In the drug charge filed last month, it became clear that while Lall was out on bail on the cash smuggling charge, he was being watched and investigated for laundering some of his apparently ill-gotten gains.
The drug charge, filed in the New York court, said that between December 2013 and
February 10, 2015, Lall smuggled five kilograms or more in cocaine to the US from Guyana.
Lall’s arrest for the drug charge is connected to that of nine other defendants in February 2015.
Edward Mighty, Seymour Brown, Andre Taylor, Ricardo Bailey, Robert Wilson, Kenneth Harper, Desmond Bice, and Christopher Samuels, all of Rochester, New York, were charged also. They were accused of using a telephone to facilitate drug trafficking.
On February 10, 2015, officers executed a search warrant and arrested Gonzales at a residence in Brooklyn. Officers recovered 17 kilograms of cocaine and two handguns, including an UZI 9mm pistol. Officers also seized approximately $70,000 in United States currency.
According to prosecutors, Lall’s indictment is the culmination of an investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; the Federal Bureau of Investigation; the Internal Revenue Service; Criminal Investigation Division; the Rochester Police Department and the Monroe County District Attorney’s Office.
According to court documents, Lall violated his bail in the bulk cash smuggling by participating in another crime.
Lall had operated from a private hangar at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport and controlled KayLees Gas Station at Coverden, East Bank Demerara.
Lall was arrested after his jet made a stop to refuel in Puerto Rico, on its way to Guyana.
Stashed in different parts of the plane was more than US$600,000 that prosecutors told the court was not declared by Lall. He reportedly took responsibility for the cash at the time of arrest. On board were his father and another person.
It was disclosed that the pilot, who also owns a limousine service in Guyana, had flown Government officials. There were swirling questions over the operations of the hangar he has at Timehri. The PPP/C Government had denied that it granted the company any special privileges and said that the operations were in keeping with regulations.