KINGSTON, Jamaica (AP) — Jamaican authorities said Thursday that two men from Suriname were detained earlier this month after they failed to explain why they were carrying nearly $550,000 in cash, but they have since been freed by a Jamaican judge under mysterious circumstances.
In a joint statement, police and the finance ministry’s investigative division said officers stopped a taxi carrying the two Surinamese men a few days after arriving in the city. The officers found the money after searching the two men.
When questioned why they were carrying such a large sum of cash, the men allegedly said they were directed to pick up the money by a mysterious man who called the Kingston hotel where they were staying. They were told to await further instructions about where to deliver the cash, according to investigators. They claimed they had no idea who was giving these instructions or why they were following them, officials say.
The pair, identified as Roshen Daniels and Murvin Reingoud, were then arrested and charged with possessing criminal property. The cash was seized.
Prosecutors allege a Jamaican physician then tried to bribe the investigating officer to free the two Surinamese men. The doctor offered the officer 40 percent of the seized money if the matter was kept out of the courts, they allege.
But a Jamaican judge, Senior Magistrate Judith Pusey, has since dropped all charges against the Surinamese men and they were released from custody.
“We are unclear as to why the magistrate ordered the withdrawal of the charges,” said Justin Felice, director of the finance ministry’s investigative division.
The division is currently applying to civil court for forfeiture of the seized money. It’s unclear if the two men have since departed the island for their South American homeland.
Meanwhile, the Jamaican physician was charged with trying to pervert justice. He has been granted $9,100 bail.