Gold smuggling goes unabated in Nepal

Gajendra Basnet

February 3, 2021


Gold smuggling goes unabated in Nepal

KATHMANDU: The chain of events of gold smuggling in Nepal seems far from being controlled. Despite the formation of various committees for the investigation and control of smuggling and despite the public concern, the smuggling is going as usual.

It is true that the police have been recovering gold quite often, but the investigation seems incomplete as the mastermind behind the smuggling has hardly been brought to the record till now.

Nepal Police arrested two persons from Tribhuvan International Airport on January 24 along with some gold.

According to SSP Rajesh Nath Bastola, the Chief of Airport Security Office, the police have arrested two persons involved in smuggling gold from Qatar and taking charge of the gold here.

Among the arrested are Subash Gurung who had come from Qatar and Tak Bahadur Gurung of Tanahu.

While checking the luggage of Subas who came to Kathmandu from Qatar Airways flight number QR-652, the police found 344.99 grams of gold rings and bracelets hidden in the child’s diaper.

“We took the gold under control on the basis of the information that the gold was being smuggled, SSP Bastola told Khabarhub, “based on Subash’s statement to the police, the police arrested Tak Bahadur, 31, of Byas Municipality-9, Tanahu.

Despite the fact that many people used as carriers for smuggling have been nabbed, the mastermind behind them all is hardly brought to the police record, which reveals the shallowness of the investigation meant to curb smuggling.

The high-level investigation Committee formed to investigate the gold smuggling network had concluded that the renowned gold businessman of the capital and the elites here were running a racket of gold in the Valley.

The committee formed under then undersecretary Ishwor Raj Poudel’s leadership had recommended the government to nab those high hands and put them on trial.

The recommendation of this committee formed immediately after the 33kg gold smuggler’s setting was arrested went unheard with the passage of time.

Here goes the route of racketing

According to a police official involved in the investigation of gold smuggling, there is a gang of smugglers notorious for introducing smuggled gold from the Chinese border Rasuwagadhi-Kerung and Tatopani-Khasa. Another biggest route for gold smuggling is Tribhuvan International Airport.

Mostly, the smugglers are found to be sending gold to Nepal from Dubai, Thailand, and Hong Kong. The ‘carriers’ of the gold arrested on various occasions have verified this claim quite often.

According to the investigation officials of Nepal Police, the smuggling in Nepal is executed in three tiers.

The first group of smugglers takes the responsibility of helping the gold cross their region by living in the key international junctures like Dubai, Hong Kong and China. The second tier stays in Nepal through their allies help the gold cross the customs office. The third tier traders live at the Nepal-India border. They are responsible for transporting the gold stored in Kathmandu to Indian traders by land route.

Most of such racketeers are active in the Birgunj area. The first priority of smuggled gold is the Indian market.

They look for the local markets only when they find it difficult to take gold to the Indian market.

5-10 percent consumption in Nepal

According to former DIG Hem Bahadur Malla, the gold smuggling network is active both in Nepal and abroad.

“From smugglers to porters the gold smuggling has made Nepal a transit point to smuggle to India,” former DIG Malla told Khabarhub, “most of the gold goes to India, out of the total gold smuggled via Nepal hardly 5-10 percent is consumed in the Nepali market. The rest reaches to India.”

He thinks gold smuggling cannot be brought under control by the initiative and the activism of police alone, other mechanisms like border security, customs, revenue, and asset laundering have to be equally responsive and responsible.

“There is no doubt the police has a vital role in curbing the gold smuggling,” Malla reiterated, “however, to make the mission a success, other regulators and agencies tasked with controlling related crimes have to feel equal responsibility as well.”

Information plays a great role in controlling smuggling. Therefore, a policy to encourage intelligence is a must.

“The informants play a vital role in controlling the racketeering, but the government, rather than encouraging the informants took to discouraging them by reducing the commission amount,” Malla expressed dissatisfaction at the wrong course of action and added, “this cutting off of the reward for informants has encouraged the smugglers.”

According to the police investigation, the involvement of gold smugglers ranged from hundi to foreign currency smuggling. The responsible authority has to be more vigilant to control it.