A passenger travelling to Canada with gold bars worth Rs65.76 lakh was on Thursday intercepted by customs officials after a tip-off that the gold was bought using money that is unaccounted for.
The Air Intelligence Unit (AIU) of the Mumbai customs intercepted Pranav Shashikant Chauhan, 34, before he could board a flight to Toronto via Dubai. He was found carrying a 1kg gold bar and 15 gold bars weighing 100 grams each.
An initial probe found Chauhan bought the gold at Rs95 lakh, with money he got out of a land deal. “He purchased the gold from Surat. We suspect he was trying to sell the gold bars either at Dubai or Toronto to get cash in foreign currency,” said a customs officer . “We are also investigating the possibility of others being involved in smuggling the gold out,” the officer said.
According to officials, ever since the November 8 announcement scrapping the old Rs500 and Rs1,000 banknotes, there has been a spike in such cases. Gold traders and jewellers have been under the lens of income tax officials for allegedly converting black money for a commission of 30-60%.
Sources said people hoarding black money with the old high-value notes are buying gold at premium rates to utilise the unaccounted cash. Chauhan, too, appears to have bought gold with black money, sources told HT.
AIU sources said the method Chauhan used is of late being used to turn black money into white. Customs officials have increased vigilance on those flying out of the city.
In this case, officials said Chauhan would have most likely sold the gold for foreign currency.
“Gold is sold at double the price in the grey market. It touched Rs60,000 for 10 grams, with some jewellers accepting old notes of Rs500 and Rs1,000 denomination,” said the officer.