Four more people have been arrested in connection with the recent gold smuggling case.
The Central Investigation Bureau (CIB) of Nepal Police arrested four more Chinese nationals -- Tian Mi, Wen Tong, Ding Shegfa, Li Nengkai -- over their alleged involvement in the scam.
According to Deputy Inspector General Kuber Kadayat, central spokesperson for Nepal Police, the four have been taken to the Kathmandu District Court on Wednesday for extension of their custody.
The number of arrests in the case has now reached 21. Among them, customs agent Rukmina Subba has been released on guarantee as she suffers from throat cancer and needs to undergo treatment.
The Department of Revenue Investigation (DRI) had arrested Suresh Tamang, known as Naresh, on July 26 and Belgian national Dawa Tsering on July 30.
Three staffers of Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) Customs Office – Santosh Chand, Kumar Dhakal, and Saroj Shrestha – have also been arrested on suspicion of involvement in the scam. The Department of Customs had already suspended them citing negligence before the DRI arrested them.
Customs agents Yadav Shankar Parajuli and Sudarshan Gautam, Global Pvt Ltd promoter Pushkar Raj Bhatta, Krishna Shrestha, Rajan Shrestha, taxi driver Ashok Lama, customs agent Rajendra Rai, Ready Trade Pvt Ltd promoter Dilip Bhujel and his maternal uncle Ram Kumar Bhujel, Harka Raj Rai, Indian national Thapten Tsering and Chinese national Lin Zeqiang have also been arrested in the case.
A DRI team had confiscated a huge quantity of gold hidden inside brake shoes of scooters during a cargo inspection on July 18 after it had passed undetected through customs at the Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) in Kathmandu.
The gold was brought on a Cathay Pacific Airways flight from Hong Kong. The brake shoes were imported by Ready Trade Pvt Ltd.
The DRI had sent the seized goods, packed in eight boxes, to the Mint Division of Nepal Rastra Bank on July 20 to determine the actual weight of the smuggled gold.
However, the Mint Division removed the gold from the brake shoes only on Monday after receiving a letter from the CIB. The weight of the gold was then found to be 60.789 kilograms.
The actual quantity of gold was determined to be 60.716 kilograms when it was melted and weighed again on Tuesday.
The DRI had initially investigated the accused under the Revenue Leakage (Investigation and Control) Act, while the CIB is currently investigating them under the Customs Act and organized crime after taking charge of the case.