Nepal’s smugglers cash in on India’s love of gold

KATHMANDU, September 4, 2013 (AFP) – After a long drive from across the border in China, the white truck arrived in Nepal’s capital at dawn with a seemingly innocuous cargo of Chinese-made clothes. But hidden in a cylinder inside the vehicle’s front bumper was the latest haul of gold smuggled from Tibet — bars weighing some 35 kilograms (77 pounds) and worth several million dollars on the black market.

Nepal’s police were waiting for the truck and its 24-year-old driver just inside the city, after tracking them for several days along the highway that connects Nepal with China.

“We had been informed from our reliable source that a consignment of gold was on its way from Khasa(a border town in Tibet),” Uttam Kumar Karkee, a senior superintendent, who led the operation in July told AFP.

Nepal’s police and inland revenue department say the illegal shipment was ultimately destined for neighbouring India, where seizures of smuggled gold, including from its closest neighbours, have reportedly soared this year.

The seizures in India coincide with the government’s campaign in recent months to deter legal imports of the precious metal — including by hiking import duties.

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