262.82 kg smuggled gold seized in three years

Kathmandu, November 17

Despite efforts by law enforcement authorities, gold is still being smuggled into India via Nepal.

Although smugglers mostly use land route, they are also found using Tribhuvan International Airport to smuggle gold.

Concealing gold in the rectum, battery box, laptop, baggage, cargo trucks and inner sole of shoes are some of the major modus operandi adopted by smugglers. Smugglers also mould gold into jewelleries and wear them to outsmart security officials.

Nepal Police statistics show law enforcement authorities confiscated as much as 262.82 kg of gold in the last three fiscals. Police seized 90 kg of undeclared gold in the fiscal 2013/14, 111 kg in 2014/15 and 61.82 kg in 2015/16.

Informants usually tip off the police about gold smuggling as they get incentives from the government if the smuggled precious yellow is seized by the law enforcement agencies.

The government has a provision of providing 25 per cent of the total value of the gold as incentive to informants.

According to officials, most of the smuggled gold enters Nepal through Tatopani point in Sindhupalchwok via Lhasa of Tibet. The gold entering from Tatopani

comes from Hong Kong, while the gold entering from TIA mainly comes from Dubai, Thailand and Malaysia.

The open border with India and relatively poor law enforcement in Nepal make it an easy route for smugglers to push gold into India through Nepal. “The gold being seized by police may be just the tip of the iceberg,” said a senior police official.

Traders claim that up to 100 kg of gold is smuggled every day via Nepal.

The official blamed lack of resources and hi-tech mechanism for not being able to check smuggling effectively. Amid mounting concerns about cross-border crime, police have not been able to keep tabs on smugglers.

The official maintained that criminal groups active in Nepal, India and China are investing their money earned through illegal activities in gold.

The government imposes a customs duty of Rs 5,200 per 10 grams of gold while selling it to jewellers through the official channel of commercial banks.

The smugglers bring in gold through the back doors to evade customs duty.