Japan-bound passenger who allegedly concealed $40,000 in luggage indicted


A federal grand jury has indicted Tsunemasa Otsuji, a Japan-bound passenger who was arrested last May 17 for allegedly carrying $40,000 cash in his luggage without declaring the currency at the Francisco C. Ada/Saipan International Airport.

The indictment charged Otsuji with one count of bulk cash smuggling out of the United States. The indictment also seeks the forfeiture of the cash to the U.S. government.

The indictment was filed yesterday in the U.S. District Court for the NMI.

According to the indictment, on May 16, 2016 on Saipan, Otsuji with the intent to evade a currency reporting requirement under the U.S. Code, knowingly concealed more than $10,000 in currency and other monetary instruments in an article of luggage.

Otsuji allegedly attempted to transport or transfer such currency and monetary instruments from a place within the U.S. to a place outside of the U.S. in violation of the U.S. Code.

Federal agents served Otsuji with an arrest warrant last May 17 after the Department of Homeland Security filed a criminal complaint charging him with one count of bulk cash smuggling.

Otsuji is out on bail.

DHS Homeland Security Investigations special agent Everette Route stated in an affidavit that on May 16 he received a call from supervisory U.S. Customs and Border Protection Officer Mark Layman about Otsuji, who during a screening process had been flagged with carrying undeclared currency possibly over $10,000.

Otsuji was scheduled to depart from the Saipan International Airport last May 16 at 4:30pm aboard Delta Airlines flight #297, and fly directly to Narita, Japan.

Route said during a consent search of Otsuji’s golf bag, a CBP officer found eight 100 bundles of $50 bills equaling $5,000 each and totaling $40,000.

The money was wrapped inside tour pamphlets inside the golf bag.

Route said according to Otsuji the money was given to him by Yamaguchi, who allegedly owns a construction and real estate company in Japan.

Route said Otsuji claimed that Yamaguchi asked him to carry the money back to Japan for him.

Otsuji stated that Yamaguchi was also traveling back to Japan on the same flight with him and that he did not know why he did not carry the money himself.

He said Yamaguchi asked him to carry the money and give it back to him when they got to Japan.

Otsuji stated he did not know he had to declare the money on Saipan, but that he would declare the amount in Japan.

Route said asked why he put $0 in the form, Otsuji explained he did not read the form carefully.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a senior reporter of Saipan Tribune. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and has covered all news beats in the CNMI. He is a recipient of the CNMI Supreme Court Justice Award. Contact him at ferdie_delatorre@Saipantribune.com

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