Home ministry directed to launch investigation

Kathmandu. January 11

A meeting of Central Monitoring and Evaluation Committee presided over by Chief Secretary Somlal Subedi today expressed serious concern about alleged involvement of employees of the Department of Customs in assisting smugglers to make through the customs checkpoint at the Tribhuvan International Airport with 33 kilograms of undeclared gold on January 5.

The meeting held at the Office of Prime Minister and Council of Ministers directed the Ministry of Home Affairs to form a high-level probe panel and conduct a fact-finding investigation into the ‘link of customs officials to smugglers’ before initiating action against the guilty.

Chiranjeevi Paudel, assistant spokesperson at OMPCM, said home ministry was given 15 days to submit its report recommending action against customs officials who ‘worked in cahoots with the smugglers’ to cross the TIA with the precious yellow metal.

The DoC and the Central Investigation Bureau of Nepal Police have also launched investigations into the case. A day after the arrest of three persons with gold from Pinglasthan, the DoC had formed a five-member probe panel led by its deputy director general Suman Dahal and recalled 29 customs officials who were on duty at the TIA when the gold was smuggled.

Inspector General of Police Upendra Kant Aryal has openly spoken about alleged nexus between custom officials and gold smugglers, and the CIB is quizzing them to establish their nexus with criminal racket after Gopal Bahadur Shahi, who carried the gold to Kathmandu from Dubai, revealed that the customs officials had assisted him in crossing the TIA with over 200 kg gold ‘without any screening’ in the past one year.

Shahi, one of the three arrestees, also claimed that his ‘boss’ had a good rapport with the customs officials.

Passport history of Shahi shows that he had shuttled between Kathmandu and Dubai eight times over a period of two months. Meanwhile, an official at the CIB said Shahi had been working with more than 13 other ‘gold carriers’ and was their mobilisers on behalf of the smuggling racket.

Though CIB officials arrested two more gold carriers in connection with the smuggling from Kavre yesterday, they are yet to crack its top layer.