Saturday, February 2, 2013

The Check Guy

It's one of those odd stories that pop up in Germany once or twice a year and you doubt the story.

There's the Iranian guy....arriving at a German airport....and the customs guys ask if he has cash of 10k or more.  The guy says least in terms of cash....he was right.

But the customs guys go through his bags and eventually find this odd check.  It's only a check.  It's somewhere in the area of 54 million Euro.  Course, there's some things.  It's drawn on a Venezuelan bank, and it's in Venezuelan Bolivares.

The guy?  Well...the cops say (mostly because the guy just won't talk much) that he came out of Iran, went through Turkey, and his final destination was Germany.

I'm guessing that the trick question of cash on hand was truthfully said by the guy....but the sad thing is that checks on you....even a cashiers check....counts as well.  When the customs guys ask just can't overlook that check you are carrying.

What was the guy up to?  Well...I would make a guess that he was going to present the check to someone who was going to hold the check as a deposit for something.  These days....depending on the bank you deal with....there might not be any limit to the period of validity for the check.  You could give the check to some guy for five years....come back and reclaim the check for some reason, and the money would still be there.

How would you claim the actual physical cash?'d have to walk into the Venezuelan bank where the money is held, present the check, and only then get the cash.  An electronic transfer?  My gut tells me that it'd be rare that someone would move all that cash most western countries, because of tax issues.

Few people remember the Don Johnson story from around a dozen years ago.  Don had flown into Germany on a private jet with a couple of into a limo, and was just about to cross the border into Switzerland when the German customs guys asked to check the car.  Don was carrying over a billion dollars in bank checks.  They didn't stop Don, but they photo-copied everything and sent the info onto the authorities.  My humble guess is that once back into the states....Don met quietly with the IRS folks and identified each and every person that he was carrying checks for.  You never heard a word about this.....ever again.

How many folks transit Germany with checks like this a year?  I'd bet on fifty thousand individuals.  Some are simply carrying a 100k Euro check which they will quietly use to buy an ice cream shop somewhere in Germany....and the guy doesn't want the German tax guys to confiscate any of the start-up money.  How they got the money to start with....isn't of any concern.

The sad part of this story is that this guy was merely a courier for the check, and his boss won't be happy about this whole mess.  He'll have to disappear and just hope Germany extends refugee status to him, and offers him a new identity.

No comments: