Over 80 kg gold worth nearly Rs 40 crore, being smuggled into the country by concealing it inside imported machinery parts, has been seized by DRI officials at the airport in New Delhi, according to an official statement issued on Friday. Four foreign nationals — two South Koreans, one Chinese and a Taiwanese — have been apprehended in the case, it said.
Later, in a swift follow-up operation, further recovery of 5.409 kg of foreign-origin gold smuggled into India adopting a similar modus operandi, was made from a Delhi-based jeweller, the statement issued by the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) said. The recovered gold, totally weighing 85.535 kg, valued at approximately Rs 42 crore, has been seized, it said.
In an intelligence operation code-named ‘molten metal’, several Indian and foreign (Chinese, Taiwanese, South-Korean) nationals suspected to be indulging in smuggling gold into India from Hong Kong using the air cargo route, were identified, the DRI said. The intelligence indicated that the gold smuggled in the form of machinery parts was being melted and moulded into bar/cylinder shapes before being disposed of in the local market, it said.
Acting upon the said intelligence, DRI officers examined an import consignment at the air cargo complex of the Indira Gandhi International (IGI) airport. During the examination, the consignment was found to contain electroplating machines fitted with transformers.
The laminates of the transformers were found to have been made of gold coated with nickel, essentially to hide the identity of the gold, the statement said. Approximately, 1 kg of gold was recovered from each of the 80 imported electroplating machines, it said.
Further, during search operations conducted in several rented properties in Chattarpur and Gurgaon, four foreign nationals (two from South Korea and one each from China and Taiwan) were found to be using sophisticated metallurgical techniques to convert the smuggled gold in the form of EI’ laminates into bar/cylindrical form for further distribution, the probe agency said. These activities were being conducted by the foreign nationals in rented farmhouses/apartments in plush localities in South Delhi and Gurgaon, and extreme precautions were taken to keep the illegal nature of their activities hidden even from their immediate neighbours, the DRI said.
The four foreign nationals involved in the smuggling activities have been apprehended and are being questioned, it said. During questioning, it has been revealed that two of the foreign nationals had struck up a close relationship while being behind bars for their previous offenses of gold smuggling, the statement said, adding that further investigation is in progress.