Kathmandu, March 9
Frequent arrest of racketeers using returnee Nepali migrant worker to smuggle gold via Tribhuvan International Airport was not a new phenomenon.
But, the arrest of a person has exposed how the racketeers are switching to smuggling of US dollars from gold after police stepped up crackdown on overseas returnees who were used for carrying the permissible amount of the precious metal to Nepal.
According to Metropolitan Police Office, which oversees TIA security, Timothi Nakarmi 42, of Mahalaxmi Municipality-17, Lalitpur, was arrested with undeclared USD 15,000 from the parking area of international arrival zone in TIA.
Police said he had collected the foreign currency notes from oversea returnees, who arrived home from Gulf countries. The dollar bills were in denomination of USD 100 each. Officials informed that further investigation into the case was underway. According to Nepal Rastra Bank, any Nepali or foreign national bringing foreign currency equivalent to USD 5,000 or more in cash will have to make customs declaration.
Officials suspected that racketeers were using oversee returnees to make them bring home permissible or small amount of dollar bills before collecting the currencies for accumulation. “After many racketeers landed in jail for this involvement in using migrant workers for bring home gold from overseas, they night have been eyeing the dollars,” the source said.
An oversea returnee is allowed to carry gold up to 50 grams in the form of ornament and hence racketeers have been misusing this provision to smuggle gold by causing migrant workers to possess the small consignment of gold with the promise of wage. They usually pay a wage of around Rs 6,000 to each migrant worker for carrying home 50 grams of gold.
In some cases, migrant workers are paid by the racketeers from the Gulf via wire after the consignment of gold is received by the concerned person in Nepal. According to a figure of the TIA, customs officials and police seize an average of two kilos of undeclared gold collected by racketeers from migrant workers in small consignments every month.
A version of this article appears in print on March 10, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.