Hands holding gold bars.

SINGAPORE: Smuggling gold into India over the past year has become increasingly prevalent recently, with airline passengers being recruited to illegally bring it in, along with other items such as laptops and mobile phones. This has occurred in various airports, including Changi, as well as those in Malaysia and other Middle Eastern countries, where gold is less expensive than in India.

For instance, in September of this year, a flight from Oman carried 113 out of 186 passengers, bringing in gold and electronic items. They were arrested for conspiring to smuggle the contraband. The passengers were allegedly enticed to smuggle the items with the promise of perfumes and chocolate.

In June, gold bars weighing 8 kg were seized from two passengers flying to Mumbai from Sharjah International Airport in the United Arab Emirates. In another incident that month, 2,005 gm of gold was discovered hidden under the metallic strips of the handbags of 56 women.

See also  'Take Covid vaccine or else.', Odisha warns healthcare and frontline workers

The following month, three passengers who had also come from Sharjah were detained after discovering they had concealed 48 kg of gold paste in five black belts. In this incident, airport officials were also investigated for their alleged involvement.

In Singapore, migrant workers from India who are flying home have also been targeted by smugglers, reported The Straits Times recently. Suppose an individual indicates that he or she is interested in bringing gold into India illegally. In that case, he or she is told to sit at a quiet corner of Changi Airport Terminal 1, where a deal to smuggle the goods is made. Once home, a runner receives the items from them.

Although this is not a new phenomenon, the number of incidents has spiked recently, and gold from Singapore is particularly valued for its high quality. The mules often bring in jewellery weighing 25g and 30g of gold, slightly above what is legally allowed.

See also  System hasn't failed, Modi government has: Sonia Gandhi on Covid-19 crisis

Associate Professor Kelvin Law from Nanyang Technological University is quoted in ST as saying that authorities are concerned that the proceeds from smuggled gold could be used for illegal activities, which would “pose a risk to our financial reputation and potentially implicate us in global networks of financial crime, especially considering the high global media exposure of the money laundering case here.”

“We encourage travellers to be vigilant and take precautions to protect themselves from risks associated with carrying goods on behalf of strangers,” said Mr Alan Tan, the senior vice-president (Aerodrome Safety & Aviation Security) at Changi Airport Group. /TISG

Read also: Price of gold hit all-time high, but will it remain elevated?