Alleged gold smuggling mastermind brought to Nepal

Kathmandu, August 21

Nepal Police succeeded in bringing the alleged mastermind behind the smuggling of 33 kg gold Rajan Prasad Pantha to Nepal with the cooperation of INTERPOL.

Pantha was arrested at Tribhuvan International Airport while returning from Dubai.

It is said Dubai police had arrested Pantha two months ago and he was kept in detention there. Nepal Police said a red corner notice was issued naming Pantha as the mastermind of the 33 kg gold smuggling case.

Earlier, in the beginning of this year on January 5, in one of the biggest hauls of hallmark gold, the Central Investigation Bureau of Nepal Police had arrested three persons with 33 kilograms of undeclared precious yellow metal from Pinglasthan in Kathmandu.

The gold seized from the arrested: Gopal Bahadur Shahi, Dilbandhu Thapa and Santosh Kafle of Banke district was worth around Rs 150 million. Through those three suspects police was able to arrest 12 people and 21 people involved in the case was identified. They are at large.

After investigation, police consulted INTERPOL as Pantha was found to be the mastermind. After arresting at TIA, police today presented him before the court.

According to Police, the main suspects involved in gold smuggling are: Hari Sharan Khadka, Arjun Prasad Kharel, Roshan Guptlal Bhusal, Krishna Gopal Agrawal, Chudamani Upreti, Sitaram Kharel, Keshab Chapagain, Durg Prasad Kharel and Gopal Bhusal.

CIB said it had launched further investigation to track down racketeers operating from Nepal and Dubai. The gold (33 kg) was divided into 282 bars of 10 tolas each, 19 finger rings and 20 necklaces wrapped with adhesive black tape separately.It was the second biggest seizure of illegal gold after July 10, 2013 when CIB arrested three persons with 35 kg hallmark gold from Koteshwor. The gold was being smuggled to Kathmandu from China via Tatopani Customs Point.

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

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.