A U.S. man was charged in Australia after $6.05 million in cash was found in seven suitcases in the Sydney apartment where he was staying.
The 58-year-old man, whose name was not disclosed, arrived from Costa Rica two days before his arrest on Jan. 18. He denied owning the money, the Australian Federal Police (AFP) reported on their Facebook page.
AFP Commissioner Tony Negus on Thursday said the man appeared in a Sydney court charged with handling suspected proceeds of crime.
“This is one of Australia’s largest cash seizures of crime proceeds,” Negus said.
The maximum penalty for the charge is three years in prison, but he could face up to 25 years if police charge him with money laundering.
Costa Rican Public Security Minister Mario Zamora on Friday said he is aware of the seizure and that the country’s Office of Intelligence and Security already is in contact with Australian authorities “to find out the impact and possible links in Costa Rica of this incident.”
The cash is part of $580 million worth of drugs and assets recovered after a year-long covert money-laundering investigation codenamed Eligo, the AFP said. So far, 105 people have been arrested in connection with the case that is believed to have links to terrorists groups.
The money now will be used by local authorities to fight crime, according to the country’s legislation.