'Money in socks' appeal rejected

Last updated 17:32 17/06/2014

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A man convicted of attempting to smuggle more than $50,000 out of the country in his socks has had his appeal dismissed.

Jason Page was convicted after he failed to report that he was taking cash over $9,999 out of New Zealand on 9 August last year.

He was found with US$44,950 in his socks at Auckland airport as he attempted to travel to the US.

Page revealed he had the cash in his socks after he set off a metal detector while passing through customs.

Page was convicted because he failed to declare the cash, in excess of the $10,000 limit, at three opportunities before he was questioned when he set off the metal detector.

Page completed and signed the New Zealand departure card that reminded passengers they must report to a customs officer if they are carrying more than $10,000. 

He answered “no” to the question “are you carrying $10,000 or more in cash?” on the interactive touch screen terminal at the departure “SmartGate”. 

And he failed to reveal to the customs officer who took his departure card that he was carrying the cash in his socks. 

When he set off the metal detector he told the customs official who came he had hidden the money in his socks for security and did not want to put it in the overhead locker.

Page argued he was unfamiliar with the electronic departure technology which he was using for the first time and had mistakenly touch “no”.

He complained that a buildup of wax in one ear had possibly affected his state of mind and degree of attentiveness when he responded to the electronic question. 

But the judge rejected the possibility that he had made a mistake. Even if Page had made a mistake at the touch screen he was well-travelled and familiar with the rules, and he had a number of alternative opportunities to declare the cash, the judge said.

“His intention was in fact to take the money out of New Zealand without reporting it,” the judge said.

On appeal an application to introduce new expert evidence about anxiety disorders from which Page suffers, and evidence on mistakes on automated computer interfaces was rejected because the evidence could have been produced at the first trial and was not logical.

The High Court found no reason to reach a different conclusion from the trial judge’s findings that Page could not have merely made a mistake.

The appeal was dismissed.


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