ASTONISHED Border Force officers have discovered £23,000 in cash stuffed in toy packaging.
The bundles of banknotes were seized along with a further £10,000 found in a carrier bag in the vehicle at the Channel Tunnel terminal in Folkestone.
Perparim Emini, 42, of Oldbury, West Midlands, was the driver of the vehicle stopped by Border Force officers at the Channel Tunnel on February 12 last year.
He told officers the toys were unwanted Christmas presents and were going to be given to children in Germany.
He was travelling with another man and told the officers he was planning to visit Germany to source tyres for a new business when they were stopped in February last year.
They told officers about the carrier bag stuffed with cash but claimed there was no more money in the car.
The pair first denied knowing anything about the bundles of banknotes stashed in the toys but Mr Emini later admitted it was his.
In December, police were granted a forfeiture order by Folkestone magistrates’ court to take the pair’s money away permanently.
Mr Emini unsuccessfully contested the cash forfeiture application along with a third man, Flurim Gaxherri, 39, also of Oldbury, who was not travelling with Mr Emini at the time but who later claimed the £10,000 kept inside the carrier bag was his.
Det Insp Annie Clayton of the Serious Economic Crime Unit said: ‘While neither Emini nor Gaxherri were charged with any criminal offences, they were unable to prove to the courts that the money found inside the car driven by Emini was not going to be used in unlawful conduct.
‘The magistrates agreed that there was a lack of evidence from the respondents and the cash will now not be returned to them.
‘This is yet another great example of how our financial investigators use the Proceeds of Crime Act to ensure people are not allowed to benefit from the use of illegally-earned funds or are able to use cash to commit further offences.’