In order to resolve the 100 kg gold smuggling issue, the Nepal Customs Department has requested assistance from Hong Kong Customs. Notably, an inquiry into the 100 kg or more of gold that may have been trafficked to Nepal is still ongoing.
The Nepal Department of Customs requested Hong Kong’s participation in the inquiry and urged them to explain why they permitted the gold smuggling under the guise of “lead without battery” in a letter sent on Tuesday.
“We have written a letter to the Hong Kong Customs asking how such a large amount of gold came to Kathmandu illegally through the airport,” Sobhakant Paudel, told the Director General of the Customs Department.
On July 19, the Nepalese Department of Revenue Investigation (DRI) discovered 100 kg of gold concealed within brakeshoes, a motorcycle and scooter spare part, at the Tribhuvan International Airport.
The gold was confiscated by the DRI when it went through customs at Tribhuvan International Airport.
“Why was such a huge quantity of gold sent through Hong Kong customs? Why wasn’t the courier checked there? How could it bypass the X-ray machine of Hong Kong customs? We have asked such questions to the Hong Kong Customs,” Paudel added.
‘Lead without battery’ and ‘brakeshoe’ were written on several documents when the gold was transported from Hong Kong to Nepal. According to Paudel, Hong Kong Customs has requested that the government deliver the Air Way Bill and has sent a reply letter promising to assist in the inquiry.
He stated that based on the airway bill, Hong Kong Customs will carry out additional investigation and discuss its findings with Nepal Customs.
The DRI also has suspected that earlier packages that arrived in Nepal imported by Ready Trade Pvt. Ltd contained the priceless yellow metal as well, but the authorities are still awaiting word from Hong Kong Customs where it was couriered to Nepal.
According to records kept by the Nepalese Customs Department, the company had previously imported a similar shipment several times before it was detained on July 19, 2023. According to the data, imports from Hong Kong of at least 1,997 kg occurred on various occasions before July 19.
The DRI recovered 66 crates of the identical commodities during a raid on the Ready Trade warehouse on July 26 in the nation’s capital, Kathmandu. The officials searched all of the “brake shoes” but couldn’t discover any gold, so they believe the boxes had been tampered with.
“The Customs Department didn’t find gold in those items, primarily all that is iron. But what is suspicious is the total weight of those boxes is significantly lower than similar boxes seized on July 18 that contained smuggled gold,” Nawaraj Adhikari, the information officer at the Department of Revenue Investigation confirmed.
The boxes found during the operation, according to the Spokesperson, weighed just about 500 grams each, as opposed to the 745 grams of the boxes found on July 19.
The beneficiary owner of the gold is still at large despite 17 persons being detained by the investigative agency, the Department of Revenue Investigation, as of July 29.
Dilip Bhujel, the proprietor of Ready Trade, was detained by DRI. He is claimed to only be a daily wage laborer from a poor area in Dolakha.
The total weight of the illicit gold was determined to be 155 kilograms, which also comprised of electric razors, as per officials at the mint department of the Nepal Rastra Bank, which has been given the responsibility of inspecting the metal. The DRI has not yet requested the central bank to melt the amalgamation in order to ascertain the precise weight of the gold portion.
Furthermore, the DRI is also filing a formal appeal with the government to broadcast live the process of melting the gold on a state-run television channel in the near future.