A South African billionaire tried to carry $1 million onto a plane before he was caught by Customs. Christo Wiese is now facing a legal fight to recover over the $1 million that was confiscated by Customs officers because Wiese carried it onto the plane in cash.
The 70-year-old is South Africa’s third richest person, worth $3.1 billion. Wiese made his fortune from his shares in Africa’s biggest retailer, Shoprite.
Wiese tried to carry the bills in his carry-on luggage bundled up in rubber bands.
According to Daily Mail, Wiese tried to board the flight from England to Luxembourg in 2009 with two checked suitcases and one carry-on bag. The carry-on contained £674,920 — just over $1 million — in bills.
Wiese claimed that the money came from diamond deals in South Africa in the 1980s and 1990s. According to lawyers for the UK Border Agency, the money had been kept in a safety deposit box in the Ritz hotel because of foreign exchange restrictions in South Africa.
However, the government believed that the money was the result of a crime, and seized it from Wiese.
Wiese is now appealing the decision. His lawyer said that the money is not suspicious because of Wiese’s wealth.
Barrister Clare Montgomery said: “The amount of money was consistent with Dr. Wiese’s stated wealth, representing less than two weeks’ income and a minute fraction of his assets.”