Malaysia to Pondy Bazaar: Gold smuggling gang busted

A detailed investigation by Customs found the alleged involvement of a gold trader in T Nagar and a smuggler based out of Malaysia, who hired the four.
While the officials initially believed it to be a routine case of currency smuggling, sources said interrogation with the ring leader revealed it was a gold-smuggling operation.
While the officials initially believed it to be a routine case of currency smuggling, sources said interrogation with the ring leader revealed it was a gold-smuggling operation.(Representational Image)

CHENNAI: In a significant breakthrough, the seizure of Rs 50 lakh in Indian currency from four separate Malaysian nationals at the Chennai international airport led Customs officials to bust a gold smuggling gang operating from the south-east Asian country.

A detailed investigation by Customs found the alleged involvement of a gold trader in T Nagar and a smuggler based out of Malaysia, who hired the four. Sources said the case details will be handed over to the Income Tax department for further probe.

Around two weeks ago, Customs officials found, during regular screening in the airport’s departure hall, that four Tamil-speaking Malaysian men had concealed around Rs 50 lakh in Indian currency notes in their baggage. While one man had around Rs 7.5 lakh, another had Rs 10 lakh, the third Rs 15 lakh and the leader of the group had Rs 17.5 lakh. All four of the men were around 35 years in age.

The cash had not been declared by the passengers, a violation under the regulations of the Foreign Exchange Management (Export and Import of Currency) Act.

While the officials initially believed it to be a routine case of currency smuggling, sources said interrogation with the ring leader revealed it was a gold-smuggling operation.

The alleged ring-leader, a Malaysian gold and silver trader, admitted to Customs that he had smuggled around 250gm of gold into India and given it to a trader in Pondy Bazaar in T Nagar, sources said.

Customs officials arrest four passengers under FEMA

Though 250 gm of gold costs only around Rs 16 lakh, Customs asked him why they carried Rs 50 lakh in cash.

That is when the Malaysian said that the T Nagar trader had made a down payment for smuggling in more gold on his next trip and the money was supposed to be given to his handler back in Malaysia.

The four passengers were arrested under the provisions of Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA).

They were later let off on bail.

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