Sri Lanka link to Goa gold smuggling: Customs commissioner

Indo Asian News Service

Panaji, Jan 13 (IANS) Smuggling of gold into Goa appears to have a Sri Lanka connection, Goa Customs Commissioner V.P.C. Rao says adding that in recent times, non-resident Indians have been used to legally carry gold in small quantities.

Rao was addressing a press conference at the Customs Commissionerate in Panaji.

He said that in three of 17 cases involving gold being smuggled into the state via the Dabolim airport, Sri Lankan nationals were involved.

"We have not studied it (the trend) yet, but this Sri Lanka connection keeps appearing," Rao said.

The seizure recorded last year had Sri Lankans arriving from the Gulf, who were caught with crores of rupees worth of gold.

On interrogation, the Lankan nationals claimed that they had been carrying the gold on behalf of some United Arab Emirates-based individuals.

Rao, however, said that in recent times, smuggling of the contraband into India had virtually stopped and smugglers were increasingly using non-resident Indians (NRIs) to legally carry small quantities of gold, which resulted in smaller margins of profit on payment of tax.

"We are seeing many cases where NRIs come with a kg of gold, on which they pay a tax of Rs.2.35 lakh, and bring it into the country," Rao said.

NRIs, who have stayed outside India for more than six months are allowed to bring in one kg gold into India on return.