The Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) arrested a flier who was carrying 42 gold bars at the Mumbai international airport on Wednesday night.
The seized bars weighed 4.9 kg and were worth Rs1.29 crore, officials said. The passenger, Kabadsha Mohammed Fawaz, 26, had arrived from Dubai at 11.15 pm on Wednesday when he was intercepted by the authorities.
Investigations are currently on to trace the source of the gold. Sources in the DRI revealed that the accused is a carrier who was working for someone.
According to sources, gold has been in high demand in India after the Centre’s move to demonetise old notes of Rs500 and Rs1,000 as gold is considered a safe way to launder black money. However, in the past two months, gold seizure has dropped at the airport.
When asked about any link with demonetisation, a high-ranking DRI officer said, “The smuggling of gold is independent of demonetisation. However, if there is surge in demand owing to some other factor, then it may give a push to smuggling too.”
DRI authorities said it received specific information about a passenger carrying gold, after which a team picked up the accused.
“He had concealed the gold in his backpack. Investigations are on to find out all the persons involved in the smuggling of the seized gold,” added the officer. The accused will be produced before a court.
Authorities said the holiday season was the ideal time for black-money hoarders to bring back money or gold from abroad and hence vigilance has been increased on that occasion.
On Tuesday night, air intelligence unit (AIU) authorities detained a man, identified as Soraab Ali, who arrived from Riyadh.
He was found carrying six gold bars worth Rs17.77 lakh, concealed inside the battery of a rechargeable LED torchlight.
Last month, a passenger travelling to Canada with gold bars worth Rs65.76 lakh was intercepted by customs officials after a tip-off that the gold was bought using money that is unaccounted for. According to sources, several gold traders and jewellers had come under the scanner of income tax officials for finding a way around the demonetisation — by allegedly converting black money through gold sales for a commission of 30-60%.