You must have heard about the sudden sharp increase in gold smuggling in India, the world’s largest consumer of the
It included examples of some of the inventive and time-tested ways people have found to smuggle gold into the country since the government recently started curbing imports of the metal in an effort to rein in a drastic slide in the rupee’s value.
Gold smuggling in India is nothing new.
Bollywood once glamorized it as the profession of choice for its villains and a complete ban on imports until 1992 meant gold smuggling was rampant as the only way to get gold into the country until then.
But in January the government raised import tax on gold to 6% from 4% and in June took the tax to 8% from 6%. These rises, combined with an insatiable demand for gold in India, have given more incentive to those who want to dodge the levy, to try to get their gold into the country unnoticed.
Here’s a look at some of the methods people have been using; they may sound ingenious, but bear in mind they were the ones which got caught.
A man was stopped at customs while carrying cardboard boxes containing house hold appliances, such as a television and a food blender in June. An excessive number of staples on the boxes aroused suspicion. On closer scrutiny, customs officers discovered that the staples were made of solid gold, weighing 755 grams in total, worth around two million rupees, the second Revenue Intelligence official said.
A couple and their 5-year-old child were stopped by customs this week at the southern Indian port of Mangalore. A search led to the discovery of over four pounds of gold coins and jewellery, valued at 5 million rupees, inside the woman’s underwear.
One man tried to walk through the nothing to declare channel at customs with what appeared to be only his travel bag and an LED television set, but his behavior– furtive looks, fast pace– aroused suspicion and airport officials decided to take a closer look at his TV.
They found that electronic parts inside were made of solid gold.
Another man tried to saunter through customs unnoticed, but when officers picked him out for a search, it turned out the pen he was carrying was made of solid gold.
Those who decide to carry gold inside their own bodies on short-haul flights from Singapore or Thailand, are sometimes caught out by metal detectors.
Others see the gold smuggling game as child’s play. One package recently sent from Hong Kong to a state-run post office and marked for Ahmedabad in Gujarat in western India, contained toys with solid gold where the batteries should be.
A Tax official said that an intermediary with false identification would have probably picked up the package from the post office had authorities not received a tip-off about the suspect toys.
However, no arrests were made as the addresses of both the sender and receiver were fictitious and no- one turned up to collect the package.