South African police are investigating two Nigerians and an Israeli citizen who tried to bring $9.3 million in cash into the country illegally.
And according to Reuters, there are suspicions that the money could be meant for arms. The Nigerians, coming from Abuja, were not identified. The private jet, a Bombardier Challenger 600, had a Nigerian flight crew on board. It was piloted by Captain Tunde Ojongbede, according to South Africa's City Press newspaper.
Customs officers had become suspicious when the passengers’ luggage was unloaded and put through the scanners just after 7pm. The officers then investigated and found three suitcases full of cash. 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.
The National Conventional Arms Control Committee, which has to approve the import and export of any weapons as well as issue permits for such transactions, was not aware of any applications in this case.
The South African Revenue Service (SARS) seized the funds at Lanseria airport, northwest of Johannesburg, on Sept. 5. The funds are being held at the central bank as police investigate, SARS spokeswoman Marika Muller said.
"The passengers' luggage was searched after Customs officials detected irregularities. The money was detained as it was undisclosed/undeclared and above the prescribed legal limit," Muller said in a statement.
South Africa's City Press newspaper reports that bundles of unused $100 bills packed in three suitcase were transported in the small business jet from the Nigerian capital, Abuja. South African airport security spokesman Solomon Makgale confirmed a police investigation was underway but declined to give details.