Suitcase-of-cash man faces court

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 26 November, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 26 November, 2011, 12:00am


A Hong Kong man accused of abandoning a suitcase stuffed with more than A$500,000 (HK$3.79 million) in a Sydney cafe on Tuesday appeared in court in Australia yesterday.

Choi Hung-sun, 49, was charged with dealing with the proceeds of crime amounting to more than A$100,000, handling suspected stolen property and assaulting police officers, according to New South Wales police.

He faced the charges in Burwood Local Court in Sydney yesterday afternoon.

A Burwood police spokesman said Choi was remanded in jail and would appear in court on Tuesday.

He said Choi was in Australia on a student visa, but he did not know what Choi was studying or when he had arrived in Sydney. Australian police are working with their Hong Kong counterparts through Interpol to find out more about Choi.

A police spokeswoman in Hong Kong declined to comment.

Choi allegedly carried a black suitcase into the Caffe Marco in the inner-western Sydney suburb of Burwood at about 8.30am on Tuesday. He appeared highly agitated and walked out less than five minutes later, leaving the suitcase behind.

Fearing it might contain a bomb, the cafe owner dragged the suitcase outside and called the police, who found it was full of wads of cash. Australian media reported that it probably contained A$1 million in various denominations of Australian notes.

About eight hours later, Choi, dressed in a yellow singlet, surf shorts and red flip-flops, was found sitting in the rain in the neighbouring suburb of Ashfield and was arrested by Burwood police.

A statement issued by New South Wales police yesterday said the man was in a 'dazed state' when found on Tuesday. 'He was taken to Burwood police station where he allegedly assaulted three police officers, causing them minor injuries,' it said.

Choi then fell ill and was taken to Concord Hospital for treatment. He was charged when he was released from hospital and taken back into police custody on Thursday, according to the statement.

Yesterday, Burwood police said the suitcase contained over half a million Australian dollars, which had now been deposited in a bank.

It is the second time this year bags stuffed with large amounts of cash have come to the attention of the Australian police.

In April, two men - Li Wang, 26, and Yu Xiang, 25 - were charged with dealing with the proceeds of crime after being stopped in Central Station, Sydney, with suitcases containing A$2 million in cash they had carried on a train from Perth. They will appear in court again next month.