10:06 GMT31 July 2021
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    Indian customs officials are baffled by the innovative methods being used by smugglers to sneak in gold into the country that is world’s largest consumer of the yellow metal.

    New Delhi (Sputnik) — Officials at New Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGIA) arrested two women travelling from Bangkok with a kilogram of gold in the form of wire with white coating.

    “While keeping surveillance on the passengers coming from Bangkok, two women passengers, both Indian passport holders, were intercepted after the green channel. On search of their baggage, pieces of gold wire coated white weighing 1,008 gms and valued at Rs 27.30 lakh (around US $40,000) were recovered,” an official told the Press Trust of India.

    Both women allegedly hail from the northern state of Haryana. They are being interrogated by officials who suspect them to be part of an organized racket.

    As part of the crackdown on unaccounted wealth and to offset the current account deficit, the Indian government has imposed certain curbs on gold imports including a 10% import fee, triggering a massive increase in the incidence of smuggling in the country.

    Customs officials in Delhi reportedly seized 574 kg of gold in 2016 that was smuggled in various innovative forms such as brassiere wiring, luggage piping, frames of baby walkers, umbrella handles, stapled pins etc.

    It is often found that carriers smuggle gold mainly from Dubai, Bangkok, Singapore and even Australia for organized rackets in India.

    Gold smuggling via air-route has witnessed a 90 fold increase in the last three years, according to estimates. Customs officials seized 6.6 kg of gold at Delhi airport in 2012-13, which increased to 384 kg in 2013-14. During 2014-15, over 220 kg gold was confiscated.

    According to a report by the World Gold Council, Indians hold a record 23,000 tons to 24,000 tons of gold worth $800 billion. The report titled “India’s Gold Market: Evolution and Innovation” said gold stocks make up nearly half of India’s gross domestic product if the Reserve Bank of India’s 555.7-tonnes stock is taken into account. The organization’s figures, however, do not include the unaccounted for assets held by religious institutions and trusts.


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