Odisha biz man under lens for gold smuggling: Customs officials

NEW DELHI/BHUBANESWAR: A business man from Odisha is under scanner for gold smuggling, two high rank officers from Indian customs revealed.

Speaking to Headlines Everyday, the authorities claimed the man has been a frequent traveler to foreign countries, and has two jewelry shops in Odisha’s capital city Bhubaneswar.

It is further revealed gold smugglers are now shifting their focus to European nations from traditional Gulf countries, a preferred route for illegal ferrying of the yellow metal, to avoid suspicion of Indian customs authorities, officials said. Odisha business man, who has recently joined a national party and unsuccessfully contested as an independent candidate in last assembly election in 2014 from a coastal district, has made several visits to Europe over ten times in last one year.

The man under scanner uses Delhi airport as a smuggling point previously and , he frequent changes his arrival destination to some other international airports of the country, the official said.

Recent cases of gold seizure show that smugglers are opting for the European route and newer modus operandi, they said.

There is a strict vigil on the passengers coming from Gulf countries to check any attempt of gold smuggling. However, flights coming from European countries do not see such strict checks.

“There are cases of gold smuggling involving passengers coming from European sector. It means that the smugglers are now opting for this route to bring gold. It is a new trend witnessed by us,” a senior customs official said.

A senior citizen couple — man (67) and woman (65)— were arrested by the customs officials for allegedly trying to smuggle into the country 995 grams of gold valued at Rs 25.54 lakh on November 10. They had come from Frankfurt.

In another case, a male passenger, who had come from London, was arrested on November 2, for allegedly smuggling over one kilogram gold, 400 grams of which were concealed in rectum. The gold valuing about Rs 30 lakh was seized and the person was arrested.

Last month too, a male passenger was arrested for illegally carrying over two kilogram gold (valuing Rs 66 lakh). He had come from Paris.

Another case of gold smuggling was registered last month in which the accused had come from Italy and was arrested for allegedly smuggling over 1.5 kg of gold, worth Rs 45.23 lakh.

The demand of gold has been traditionally high in the country as people prefer to invest in it for better returns.

At least 110 kg of gold, valued at Rs 37 crore, has been seized from smugglers at the Indira Gandhi International Airport here from January till October this year, according to the customs officials.

In 2016, 110 cases were registered by the customs in which a whopping 188 kg gold, valued at Rs 48 crore, was seized, they said.

The customs officials maintain high vigil at the Delhi airport as it is one of the entry points in the country which registers maximum number of cases of gold smuggling.

(With input from agencies )

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