Another gold haul in Kerala, 3.50 kg seized from Kozhikkode airport
Gold smuggling has intensified after a surge in prices of the yellow metal.Updated: Jul 10, 2020 23:03 IST
As the National Investigation Agency (NIA) took up the probe in Thiruvananthapuram airport gold smuggling case with the opposition stepping up its protests seeking chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s resignation, the customs intelligence on Friday made another major seizure of the precious metal.
Customs said 3.50 kg of gold were seized from three passengers at Kozhikkode international airport, who had arrived in chartered flights from West Asian countries. The market value of the seized gold is more than Rs 1.60 crore, it said, adding this was the 14th major seizure made at Kozhikkode airport since January this year.
“This shows the brazen act of the smuggling syndicates. They are threatening our system. In most cases they are using poor people who lost their jobs by promising them good returns. It is sad that some of these people are quite unaware of dangers attached to such acts,” said a senior officer who did not want to be identified.
Last Sunday, the Customs had seized 30 kg of gold from an air cargo consignment from the United Arab Emirates to the country’s consulate in Thiruvananthapuram. Swapna Suresh, who was working as the IT and space consultant with the state IT ministry, had gone underground after the seizure. Later, CM Pinarayi Vijayan had transferred his principal secretary M Sivasankar who was reportedly close to Suresh. The Union Government had later handed over the case to the NIA.
According to the India Gold Council data, the country imported 831 tonne of gold in 2019, but customs officials and jewellers says that more than half of this quantity floods the market through illegal ways. At least 550 kg of gold was seized from the state last year. After gold prices skyrocketed, there is a big spike in smuggling also.
Imported metal attracts 10 per cent import duty and 3 per cent GST. Jewellers say one kg of smuggled gold fetches a profit between Rs 8 and 10 lakh. Often smuggling syndicates think that frisking norms would be at a minimum during the covid days and tickets won’t be checked in case of chartered flights and therefore take poor returnees for a ride, the official said.