Guyana: Cash jet pilot opts out of trial, settles for plea deal

Cash jet pilot opts out of trial, settles for plea deal

February 15, 2015 | By |

Embattled Guyanese pilot, Khamraj Lall, who was spectacularly busted with over US$600,000 in undeclared cash on board his jet by Puerto Rico authorities in November, is buckling under pressure and seems all set to make a plea deal.

Plea deal: Captain Khamraj Lall

Capt. Khamraj Lall

In applications filed Friday for the February 23 trial date to be postponed, Lall’s lawyer, Rafael Lang, disclosed that a plea bargain is being actively pursued but additional time of one month is needed.

The Defence is asking permission for the matter to be transferred from Puerto Rico to New Jersey for purposes of plea and sentencing.

It is unlikely that Lall will even be going to trial because of the plea bargain proceedings that will be pursued.

The Puerto Rico court had scheduled a pre-trial for Tuesday and trial for February 23. “It is impossible for the parties to conclude plea bargain negotiations by that time. Under the above circumstances the Court should extend the time period for the parties to finalize plea negotiations an additional 30 days,” said the application filed in the court.

Lang said that US Government does not oppose the extension of time to conclude plea negotiations.
Lall’s case has been generating much attention in Guyana, Puerto Rico and mainland US, because of the amount of cash that he was found with. Earlier this month, the US Government filed applications in the District Court of Puerto Rico to seize the jet which was reportedly used in the illegal transport of the cash.

Assistant United States Attorney, Maritza Gonzalez, said that the forfeiture of the plane is in keeping with the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure.

The plane in question is a 1988 fixed wing, multi-engine Israel aircraft bearing FAA registration N822QL.
It is one of the aircraft that Lall has been using to fly to Guyana. Also to be seized are the related aircraft maintenance log books and other records.

The jet that US Government has moved to seize.

Lall, who owns Kaylees Gas Station in Coverden, East Bank Demerara, was arrested by airport authorities in Puerto Rico in November, after his jet made a stop to refuel, on its way to Guyana.
Stashed in different parts of the plane was more than US$600,000 that prosecutors say was not declared by Lall. He reportedly took responsibility for the cash at the time of arrest. On board were his father and another person.

The pilot, who also owns a limousine service in Guyana, had flown President Donald Ramotar on occasions on the private jet. His company, Exec Jet Club, has a private hangar at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport. There were swirling questions over the operations of the hangar and its accessibility.

Government had denied that it granted the company any special privileges and said that the operations were in keeping with regulations. Exec Jet has reportedly also closed its Gainesville, Florida Office because of the troubles.

In addition to charges related to bulk cash smuggling, Lall is in deep trouble with the US authorities who by law can seize properties that are linked to illegal transactions.

As Puerto Rico is a territory of the US, the country’s tax body, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), had stepped into the matter, going after 14 bank accounts, a Lexus car, and two planes, including the jet that Lall used on that fateful flight.

Two weeks after he was arrested in Puerto Rico, US tax authorities, on December 8, filed a civil case in New Jersey. They were able to seize US$442,743.59 from accounts controlled by Lall and his companies. This is in addition to the US$600,000 that was found on the jet in Puerto Rico, and which is subject to seizure too.

Investigators, apparently working on information, started tracking Lall’s deposits to accounts held at Wells Fargo, Citibank and JP Morgan and found startling evidence that between April 2011 and September 2014, the pilot and family members deposited an astounding US$6,324,411.41 (G$1.3B). There were over a thousand transactions.

The IRS believes that a scheme was devised where Lall and others deliberately deposited less than US$10,000 each time in attempts not to trigger suspicion by banks which are mandated to report transactions above that amount. Lall’s wife, Nadinee and mother Joyce, were named in the transactions.

Investigators tracking the money said that Lall and his family had properties in New Jersey, Florida and New York.
The US Government said that it is not yet requesting seizures of properties that the Lalls control in three states but intends to do so, as proceeds of the deposits were used to renovate or pay mortgages.

According to the US Government, when domestic financial institutions, including banks and money service businesses, are involved in a transaction for the payment, receipt, or transfer of United States currency in an amount greater than $10,000, the institution is required to file a currency transaction report (“CTR”) for each cash transaction, such as, by way of example, a deposit, withdrawal, exchange of currency, or other payment or transfer by, through, or to a financial institution.

“Many individuals involved in illegal activities, such as tax evasion, money laundering, and narcotics trafficking, are aware of the reporting requirements and take active steps to cause financial institutions to fail to file CTRs in order to avoid detection of the movement of large amounts of cash.”
The court documents said that Lall and his family and others “structured” their payments deposit below US$10,000.

Lall, who was ordered to relinquish his pilot’s licences last month, was said to own and operate Exec Jet Club (“EJC”) and Exec Jet Sales (“EJS”), which were operated from a hanger located at
Gainesville Regional Airport, Florida.

Joyce Lall, his mother, was said to have controlled Kaylees Investments (“Kaylees”) and Shannon Investments (“Shannon”), which appear to be real estate and investment holding companies. These structured funds were used, in part, to purchase and improve the Lalls’ properties, aircraft, and Lexus.

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  • Ron. Persaud  On 02/15/2015 at 1:56 pm

    If I may update my grandmother’s words, “you can run; you can fly; but you can’t hide!”

  • Clyde Duncan  On 02/15/2015 at 3:51 pm

    If your grandmother lived in B.G., she would have used a Guianese expression: Moon a-run until day a-catch ‘um!!

  • Ron. Persaud  On 02/15/2015 at 7:33 pm

    Touche! She might have also said, “Every day bucket ah go a well. One day e battam go lef deh.”
    My grandparents’ generation had “a plasta fuh ev’ry sore”.
    Now, watch this conversation get hijacked.

  • Clyde Duncan  On 02/15/2015 at 8:45 pm

    “… hijacked?” Guilty: Skin teeth don’t laugh at nothun’ good!!

  • Ron. Persaud  On 02/16/2015 at 3:52 am

    Not you! Type – old guyanese – in the search bar and see what happened to that one.

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