Businessman tried to evade customs duty

A businessman found with almost $20,000 worth of electronic equipment in the lining of his suitcase following a shopping trip to the United States has admitted evading customs duty.

Andrew Hamilton was ordered in Summary Court on Thursday to serve 150 hours of community service and pay compensation totaling nearly $14,000, including the outstanding customs duty of around $3,500.

Hamilton, who runs an electronics business, was returning to Grand Cayman after a trip to the U.S. in May, when customs inspectors discovered the undeclared items hidden in his baggage, said crown counsel Candia James.

She said he had arrived on a Cayman Airways flight from Tampa with four suitcases. He filled in a customs declaration card declaring some items that he had bought overseas.

Ms James said, “During the search, electronic items were discovered hidden in the lining of two of his suitcases.”

She said the undeclared items were seized by customs officers. During an interview, Hamilton claimed to have mistakenly made a false declaration on his customs form. She said the value of the goods seized was US$18,954.87. The customs duty owed would have been CI$3,499.16,

She said the Customs Law required a charge of three times the evaded duty and for the outstanding duty to be paid.

Defense attorney Ben Tonner said his client was married with three children, of previous good character and a low risk of re-offending.

Magistrate Grace Donalds ordered Hamilton to pay CI$13,996.54 compensation within three months. She ordered that the seized items be returned to him once the money was paid.