Settlement reached in airport cash seizureOttawa's Genet Shume 'happy that it's over'
May 26, 2012
Ottawa, Ontario -- The federal government has reached a settlement with an Ethiopian woman who had $12,000 seized from her at the Ottawa airport.
"I am relieved, I'm happy that it's over," said Genet Shume, a single mother of two. "So, I'm happy, yes."
In September, Shume was headed to her home country with her two children. She was going to give family and friends back home money raised by community and church members, as well as money she had saved working at a bank.
She carried $12,000 in cash to the airport, unaware of the restrictions under the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act, which require people leaving the country with $10,000 or more in cash or foreign currency to report it to a border services officer.
Authorities seized the $12,000 and asked Shume whether she was involved in drugs or terrorism.
"'Maybe this is for terrorist,' he say," said Shume, adding that she responded, 'I'm not that person. I'm Christian. I'm not for terrorism."Terms of settlement confidential
Shume and her children were allowed to board the plane, but she arrived in Ethiopia without any money and said she was forced to beg for food.
Shume was never charged with anything, but the money became tangled up between two federal agencies: the RCMP and the Canada Border Services Agency.
After CBC News reported on the case the government started a review, which led to a confidential settlement.
"And she wants to get on with her life, but the terms, unfortunately, cannot be communicated today or in the future because that is an express provision of this agreement," said her lawyer, Russel Kaplan.
It's common for people to carry cash back home because banking fees in Ethiopia are high.
Girma Lemma, vice-chair of the Ethiopian Community Association in Ottawa, said he's recommending people use banks for large amounts of cash.
"It is not recommended to send money through individuals to begin with. Beside that, it is not safe to move with a lot of cash so people have to be very careful when sending money to loved ones back home."http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/ottawa/st ... ement.html