Probe to be turned over to CIB: Nidhi

  • gold haul at tribhuvan international airport
- Post Report, Kathmandu

Jan 12, 2017-

Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister Bimalendra Nidhi has said the government will be turning the investigation into a recent gold haul over to the Central Investigation Bureau (CIB) of the Nepal Police. 

“The government this time will not let the big fish go unlike in previous cases when only the couriers were arrested,” Nidhi told the parliamentary Finance Committee on Wednesday. 

A CIB team last Thursday seized a shipment of 33 kg of gold at Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) after it passed undetected through customs. 

CIB officers took Gopal Bahadur Shahi, who arrived from the UAE on an Air Arabia flight, into custody on the charge of carrying the contraband. Shahi was arrested after leaving the airport. 

The seizure of such a huge haul of gold has raised questions about the security situation at the country’s only international airport.

Nidhi said the government used to turn gold smuggling cases over to the Inland Revenue Department for further investigation. He said the government this time was delegating full authority to the CIB to handle the case completely. 

According to Nidhi, a CIB preliminary investigation report has shown that the gold smuggling was done by organised criminal gangs. “There is a possibility that the main culprit may not be arrested if the investigation is carried out in the conventional way,” he said. 

Nidhi directed the CIB not to report to even high government authorities as an information leak may allow the actual culprits to escape. “If necessary, the government will give additional powers to the CIB from the Cabinet level in order to arrest the main perpetrator.”

Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Krishna Bahadur Mahara reiterated the government’s commitment to arrest all those involved in the gold smuggling. 

Minister for Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation Jeevan Bahadur Shahi blamed the weakness of government officials at TIA for the growing incidences of smuggling through here. “Poor management, lapses in security checks and poor equipment, among others, at the TIA have been providing ample space to groups involved in smuggling,” he said. 

Lawmakers, however, expressed suspicion at the government’s commitment to arrest the main culprit. Member of Parliament Madan Kumari Shah criticised the government for not implementing the recommendations made by committees formed to study the management and security systems at TIA. 

A number of studies carried out in the past have shown gross mismanagement and security lapses at the country’s only international airport. 

Lawmaker Kedar Sanjel advised the government to take the gold smuggling case seriously as it is also connected with the country’s security concerns. “The responsible government authorities should not put the main issue in the shadow by just blaming each other,” he said. 

Published: 12-01-2017 09:52

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