– authorities seize US$440,000; target two planes, Lexus, three properties
A Guyana-born pilot arrested in November with over US$600,000 in cash hidden in his jet is facing major troubles with his properties and bank accounts.
Not only is Khamraj Lall charged in Puerto Rico, a US territory, with smuggling bulk cash, but the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has gone after 14 bank accounts, his Lexus car, and two planes, including a jet that he uses in a private service that he operates in Guyana.
Two weeks after he was arrested in Puerto Rico, US tax authorities on December 8 filed a civil case in New Jersey. They were able to seize over US$442,743.59. This is in addition to the US$600,000 that was found on the jet in Puerto Rico, and which is subject to seizure too.
Investigators, apparently working on information, started tracking Lall’s deposits to accounts held at Wells Fargo, Citibank and JP Morgan and found startling evidence that between April 2011 and September 2014, the pilot and family members deposited an astounding US$6,324,411.41 (G$1.3B). There were over a thousand transactions. Authorities later seized cash from 14 of these accounts.
The IRS believes that a scheme was devised where Lall and others deliberately deposited less than US$10,000 each time in attempts not to trigger suspicion by banks which are mandated to report transactions above that amount. Lall’s wife, Nadinee and mother Joyce, were named in the transactions.
US authorities are using laws which allow them to forfeit or seize properties and proceeds that come from an offence.
Investigators tracking the money said that Lall and his family had properties in New Jersey, Florida and New York.
The Lalls also owned a 1988 Fixed Wing Multi-Engine jet, FAA registration N822QL and 1985 Fixed Wing Multi-Engine Aircraft, displaying former FAA registration N951RM. For the first aircraft, the Lalls, using their companies, paid US$343,877.78 while for the other US$525,000.
They also owned a 2013 Lexus GX Wagon.
The two aircraft and the Lexus are the subjects of seizure warrants issued by Steven C. Mannion, U.S. Magistrate Judge, in early December 2014.
The US Government said that it is not yet requesting seizures of the properties in the three states but intends to do so, as proceeds of the deposits were used to renovate or pay mortgages.
According to the US Government, when domestic financial institutions, including banks and money service businesses, are involved in a transaction for the payment, receipt, or transfer of United States currency in an amount greater than $10,000, the institution is required to file a currency transaction report (“CTR”) for each cash transaction, such as, by way of example, a deposit, withdrawal, exchange of currency, or other payment or transfer by, through, or to a financial institution.
“Many individuals involved in illegal activities, such as tax evasion, money laundering, and narcotics trafficking, are aware of the reporting requirements and take active steps to cause financial institutions to fail to file CTRs in order to avoid detection of the movement of large amounts of cash.”
The court documents said that Lall and his family and others “structured” their payments deposit below US$10,000.
Lall, who was ordered to relinquish his pilot’s licences last month, was said to own and operate Exec Jet Club (“EJC”) and Exec Jet Sales (“EJS”), which were operated from a hanger located at
Gainesville Regional Airport, Florida.
Joyce Lall, his mother, was said to have controlled Kaylees Investments (“Kaylees”) and Shannon Investments (“Shannon”), which appear to be real estate and investment holding
companies. These structured funds were used, in part, to purchase and improve the Lalls’ properties, aircrafts, and Lexus.
Lall is set to face trial on February 23 in Puerto Rico for the cash smuggling charges. The matter made headlines in Guyana as Lall, who owns Kaylees Gas Station in Coverden, East Bank Demerara, was arrested by airport authorities in Puerto Rico in November, after his jet made a stop to refuel, on its way to Guyana.
The pilot, who also owns a limousine service in Guyana, has flown President Donald Ramotar on occasions on the private jet. His company, Exec Jet Club, has a private hangar at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport.
Government had denied it granted the company any special privileges and said that the operations were in keeping with regulations.
Puerto Rican prosecutors are saying that on November 22, last, Lall and two other individuals, including his father, arrived at the Luis Munoz Marin International Airport on a private aircraft bearing tail number N822QL.
During searches, security officials found secreted in several parts of the plane, over US$600,000.
Lall accepted responsibility for the cash. He later moved to restrict some of the details contained in the court documents claiming that he was “filing the motion with the requested level of restriction because it is necessary to protect the confidentiality of the information detailed in the document and exhibits.”
Exec Jet has reportedly also closed its Gainesville, Florida office.
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