Author: Paul Ploumis 15 May 2015 Last updated at 08:25:50 GMT
NEW DELHI (Scrap Monster): The gold smuggling data released by Indian Customs Department indicates that illegal gold trade into the country has risen alarmingly over the past few years. The amount of seized gold at the Mumbai and New Delhi International airports has increased multifold during this period. Going by World Gold Council (WGC) estimates, nearly 175 tonnes of gold was imported into the country during the past one year.
As per customs data, gold seized at the Chhatrapathi Shivaji International Airport, Mumbai has totaled 943 kilograms during 2014-’15. This is when compared with total gold seizure of 64 kilograms reported during 2012-’13. The rise in gold smuggling at the airport is estimated at around 1400%. The rise in gold smuggling incidents at Indira Gandhi International Airport, New Delhi is even more alarming. The gold seized during 2014-’15 totaled 575 kilograms, when matched with 6 kilograms of gold seized during 2012-’13.
The easy bail procedures and long delay in prosecution process makes gold smuggling more lucrative in the country. According to law, seized gold below Rs 20 lakh (approximately 775 grams at current market price) could be released upon collection of applicable duty and penalty. Also, a smuggler is eligible for immediate bail if the seized gold is valued below Rs.1 crore (nearly 3.85 kilograms). The Customs Department normally takes six months to issue a Show Cause notice to the accused. It will take another six months to one year for the prosecution to be launched. The entire process gets delayed if they accused moves court against the Show Cause notice.
The spurt in smuggling is also attributed to the sharp rise in gold import from 4% to 10% duty over the years. The Gems and Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC) in India has been constantly requesting to lower the high duty structure on gold imports. According to them, government should explore alternative ways to tame the rising current account deficit.