American Charged With Importing Illegal PNG Currency Out On Bail

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Accused caught at airport with illegal Bougainville kina

By Gorethy Kenneth

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, April 7, 2014) – The American national who was charged by police and Customs officials in February for transporting 1.6 million in illegal currency into PNG has been released on bail and is awaiting his court appearance.

Government authorities told the Post-Courier over the weekend that Barry Keith Webb, the man who was carrying counterfeit money, the illegal Bougainville kina, when detained at the Jackson’s airport last month, has been released on bail.

But the illegal currency remains in State custody and will not be released until court proceedings are completed, the government sources said. The illegal currency will be used as court exhibit.

Mr Webb had documents from King David Pei II, who for years has claimed to head an independent Bougainville state based in Tonu, south Bougainville. The documents supposedly authorised Mr Webb to represent the central bank of this breakaway state.

And Mr Webb, who arrived in Port Moresby to an awaiting PNG team from several parts of the country, including women and pastors, is now living with church friends.

His wife has joined him from the United States to be with him as he faces more charges from Immigration for having in possession a purported Bougainville passport, which was also illegal.

He will face more charges from the Bank of Papua New Guinea for allegedly breaching the Central Bank Act by possessing money which was not legal tender.

Mr Webb arrived in Port Moresby on an Air Niugini flight from Manila and was pulled aside for questioning after an x-ray scan of the briefcase he was carrying revealed large amounts in cash. The briefcase contents were never declared by him even after he was asked if he had anything to declare.

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