8 including 7 Chinese held at IGI for trying to smuggle forex worth Rs 6.14-cr

During their interrogation, it emerged that the same people had successfully smuggled 18 kg of gold into the country on August 3.

delhi Updated: Aug 08, 2018 08:14 IST
Anvit Srivastava
Anvit Srivastava
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
gold for forex cartel,IGI airport,Cathay Pacific flight
On questioning, it was revealed that the arrested people were sCathacarrying the money in their checked-in baggage. (HT Photo )

Seven persons from Hong Kong, including four women, were arrested at the Indira Gandhi International (IGI) Airport on Monday as they were trying to smuggle out foreign currency worth $890,000 (Rs 6.14 crore), one half of a racket that involved smuggling gold into the country.

During their interrogation, it emerged that the same people had successfully smuggled 18 kg of gold into the country on August 3.

A 30-year-old Indian from Karol Bagh, who masterminded the smuggling operation with the help of his brother stationed in Hong Kong, was also arrested by the directorate of revenue intelligence (DRI). The modus operandi was straightforward: smuggle gold in from Hong Kong, where it is cheaper, and smuggle foreign exchange out from India to fund more purchases of gold. For instance, on Tuesday, a gram of gold was priced around Rs 2,690 in HK, against Rs 3,050 in India.

The seven persons were apprehended on a tip-off after they arrived at the airport to board a Cathay Pacific flight, CX-694, to Hong Kong. The US dollars were found tightly wrapped in towels inside their luggage so as to escape detection by security and custom checks at the airport, officials said.

According to a senior DRI official who asked not to be named, the department received intelligence at 1:10 am on Monday that a passenger, Kai Lien Kao, along with his five associates – Tsong Yu Chia, Chen Wen Hsien, Tsai Kun Nan, Wang Yi Chieh and Liu Yen Mei -- would arrive at Terminal 3 of the Delhi airport with a large amount of forex.

A deputy director of DRI’s Delhi zonal unit who asked not to be named said the team swung into action and detained all six persons after their immigration check was done. “On questioning, it was revealed that they are carrying the money in their checked-in baggage. Following a fresh input, another person – Kuan Ting Lee, who was scheduled to board the same flight, was detained from the boarding gate area. The checked-in baggage of all the seven passengers were seized and $890,000 worth ₹6.14 crore in Indian currency were recovered,” this officer said.

During questioning, the Chinese nationals revealed that they were being directed by two brothers from India – one based in New Delhi and the other in Hong Kong. “They said each of them was promised a sum of 4,000 to 5,000 Chinese Yuan (Rs 40,000 to Rs 50,000) for the smuggling. They were asked to safely hand over the 18 kg of gold to the Indian man in New Delhi and take back the forex from him and hand it over to his brother in Hong Kong,” the deputy director said.

The seven persons said they smuggled in the gold by concealing it in lumbar belts.

DRI also arrested the brother based in India but declined to name him. The agency said it suspects the ring could be larger.

“The Indian who was arrested told DRI that his brother used to procure gold in Hong Kong which they used to sell in India. The cost of gold in Hong Kong is a few lakhs cheaper than in India. The two brothers were making a profit from selling the Hong Kong gold in India and were using this modus operandi for the past few years. The Indian man disclosed that he has smuggled gold the same way at least seven to eight times and used a different set of carriers each time to avoid detection by the authorities,” the first DRI officer said.

First Published: Aug 08, 2018 08:14 IST