Lied about cash in luggage

An elderly Kelowna man is out $2,500 after lying to a border officer about the amount of cash he was carrying on a flight out of the country.

Istvan Pesti, a 74-year-old Hungarian immigrant who has lived in Canada for 46 years, was flying to Budapest in June 2016 to purchase a home.

He flew out of Kelowna International Airport on June 14, stopping in Calgary, en route to Europe.

At the Calgary airport, Pesti told a border services officer he was carrying $8,000 in cash, but after searching his luggage, the officer found $17,651.20 CAD and $1,070 USD.

“He was shocked and confused when the border officer began asking him questions, and was scared that being honest with the border officer might result in him not being able to board the plane,” reads a recent judgment.

Pesti argued the money was part of his retirement savings and he was planning on putting a down payment on a house in Budapest.

Despite the claim, the officer seized the cash “on the basis that he had reasonable grounds to suspect that it was proceeds of crime.”

On Feb. 8, 2017, the Canada Border Services Agency determined the funds were legitimate and returned the seized cash, minus a $2,500 fine for failing to report all his cash to the officer.

Pesti applied to have the fine dismissed, arguing the penalty is too harsh and he was not aware of the rules of disclosure.

While Justice Manson had “some sympathy” for Pesti, he determined the fine was not unreasonable and dismissed Pesti's application.  

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