National

Gore gang’s sordid saga

  • Smugglers sneak in gold worth 61 percent of Nepal’s legal imports
- Post Report, Kathmandu

May 26, 2018-

The total gold smuggled into Nepal on January 5, 2017, allegedly by Chudamani Upreti aka Gore in different consignments, adds to 61 percent of the total legal imports of the precious metal between July 2015 and February 2017.

The racketeers smuggled into Nepal 3.79 tonnes of gold worth Rs17.01 billion in the above mentioned one-and-a-half year period.

Customs Department data shows Nepal imported 6.92 tonnes of gold worth Rs 27.86 billion through legal channel during the same period.

Therefore, the value of gold smuggled by Upreti-led gang adds up to 61 percent (3.69 is 61% of 6.92 tonnes) of the total legally imported gold.

Investigators calculated the value of the contraband based on bullion rates prevailing on the day the gold was smuggled into Nepal.

Gold smuggling is rampant in Nepal. Just one illegal consignment weighed 33kg. The Central Investigation Bureau (CIB) of Nepal Police on January 5, 2017 confiscated 33kg gold from the Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) that had passed undetected through the customs.

The charge sheet registered by the District Attorney’s Office, Morang on May 2 at the Morang District Court against 63 suspects including Gore hints the racketeers may have smuggled even more quantity of gold.

Officials aggregated the total smuggled gold based on limited documents available, despite the racketeers’ attempt to erase the evidence, the charge sheet states.

Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB) has put ceiling of 20 kg legal import of gold per day to prevent draining large amount of foreign exchange in ‘unproductive’ gold.

Thus, Nepal lost a huge amount of foreign exchange because of the gold smuggled into the country.

Adequate foreign exchange reserves are vital for the country. It leverages the country to import goods and services necessary for the country’s development and keep its economy rolling.

The charge sheet says the gold was smuggled for the Indian market and other countries.

Nepal cannot afford to lose forex

KATHMANDU: Experts say Nepal cannot afford to lose foreign exchange for supplying gold to the Indian market. NRB Research Department Chief Nara Bahadur Thapa said, “Nepal has a small base of foreign exchange earnings. It cannot afford to lose hard-earned foreign exchange for supplying gold to Indian markets.

“If such large scale smuggling of gold is not controlled, Nepal’s foreign exchange reserves would soon deplete. It would be difficult to import other important goods and services.”

The NRB had started capping gold import since 2010 after huge import of gold resulted in the country facing massive balance of payment deficit.

With racketeers smuggling gold for Indian market, Nepali market has also suffered its impact.

Bullion trader fudges gold invoice

KATHMANDU: The recently unveiled 55th annual report of the Office of Auditor General (OAG) says bullion traders did not buy all the gold that they sold from banks authorised to import gold. The report says a bullion trader paying tax at Inland Revenue Office, Kathmandu-2, purchased gold worth Rs1.39 billion in fiscal year 2016-17 but bought the yellow metal only worth Rs219.61 million from the banks.  This accounts for just 15.76 percent of total purchase by the bullion trader. Two taxpayers under Large Tax Payers’ Office purchased gold worth Rs1.29 billion in fiscal years 2015-16 and 2016-17 but gold worth Rs66.5 million was purchased from banks, according to the report.

Bullion traders say the low quota for legal import of gold encourages smuggling. Federation of Nepal Gold and Silver Dealers’ Association former President Tej Ratna Shakya said, “Nepal’s market demand is 40-50kg a day, but the NRB has fixed import quota at just 20kg a day.”

Published: 26-05-2018 07:59

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