Trafficking gold through the Himalayas

Nepalese customs officials seized 17 kilos of gold on Wednesday as two Chinese and a Nepalese national attempted to smuggle the bullion in juice cans from Tibet to Nepal.

Officials say that official imports of gold have declined recently while illegal trafficking is rising.

“Though the supply of gold in the domestic market is not enough to meet the demand, we have heard that partial demand is met by such illegally trafficked gold,” said Tej Ratna Shakya, former head of the Federation of Nepal Gold and Silver Dealers’ Association.

Toyam Raya at the Nepal Department of Customs explains the detrimental effect of smuggling on government revenue:

“For every kilo of gold that enters the territory without customs being paid, the country loses Rs 520,000” (roughly $5,000).

“We can only guess where the illegally imported gold is sent to or consumed,” said Raya, adding that he suspects much of it ends up in India.

If an Indian purchases 10 grams of gold smuggled from China rather than buying the same quantity through official import channels, he or she will save roughly $90.

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