Although the Customs authorities have busted several large consignments of smuggled gold at the Shah Amanat International Airport over the last one and half years, but gold smuggling has been escalating day by day, according to officials.
Sources at the Customs Intelligence as well as insiders in the gold trade mentioned that the gold smuggling through this airport is mainly aimed at smuggling the gold to India again, because of the additional tax imposed on gold import by the Indian government last year.
Most of the smuggled consignments of gold are arriving in the country from the Middle Eastern countries following the increase of its demand in the illegal channels in neighbouring India, they noted.
Mashiur Rahman Mondol, assistant commissioner of customs at the airport, said that it was the increased monitoring that led to the increased seizure of smuggled gold.
“We increased the monitoring of flights from the Middle Eastern countries following an order of the customs commissioner,” he said.
Mondol said consignments of smuggled gold that have been recovered over the last few months have ‘broken all the records’.
Customs records show that over the last 16 months, some 292 kilograms of gold worth nearly Tk 127 crore was seized in 77 consignments during smuggling through the airport. Among the consignments – 15 were busted in 2013.
Until April 16 this year, the customs officials busted 59 consignments having nearly 209 kilograms of smuggled-gold.
The largest consignment of gold ever busted during smuggling at the airport consisted of 905 gold bars of 200 gram each. The gold bars were recovered from a flight from Doha via Dubai and 10 people were arrested with the consignment.
Assistant commissioner of customs Mashiur Rahman Mondol said that the smugglers change their methods of operation every now and then due to strict monitoring.
Sources at the Customs Intelligence told the news agency that they suspect the destination of the smuggled gold is India.
The gold-smuggling cartels have become more active after the Indian government imposed additional tax on gold import to that country, according to the sources.
Contacted, several Chittagong-based gold traders claimed that the local market has no link with the gold that is being smuggled.
The market for gold is very small here and the end location of the smuggling is indeed the Indian market, they said. -UNB, Chittagong