South African authorities say they have seized $9.3 million cash from two Nigerians and an Israeli citizen who tried to illegally bring the money into South Africa. An airport security spokesman Solomon Makgale confirmed a police investigation was under way but declined to give details, however, the money is reported to have been for an arms deal.
“The passengers apparently told officials they were acting on behalf of the Nigerian intelligence service. They provided documentation confirming they had come to South Africa to buy weapons. It is not clear whether the Israeli passenger was an intelligence operative or an arms dealer”, said South African Newspaper City Press.
The South African Revenue Service (SARS) spokeswoman Marika Muller said in a statement that “the passengers’ luggage was searched after Customs officials detected irregularities. The money was detained as it was undisclosed or undeclared and above the prescribed legal limit.” She further disclosed that the funds, seized at Lanseria airport, northwest of Johannesburg, on Sept. 5, are being held at the central bank as police investigation continues.
According to South Africa’s City Press newspaper, bundles of unused $100 bills packed in three suitcase were transported in a small business jet from Nigeria’s capital, Abuja. The aircraft was temporarily impounded, but was allowed to return to Abuja on Monday morning, the Newspaper added.
City Press also reported that it “established that the aircraft is used by an entity called Swat Inc in Abuja, but no details of such a company could be found” before adding that “aviation industry insiders claim similar “owners” have previously been involved in several controversial aircraft financing transactions for aircraft in Africa”.