Gold worth crores missing from customs secure vaults

Gold worth crores of rupees seized from smugglers has been mysteriously disappearing from highly-secured customs vaults at Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGIA) here.

A total of 23.6 kg of gold has been missing from the customs vault. FIRs have been registered in these cases by Delhi Police, the customs department said in reply to an RTI query. 

The missing gold is worth about Rs 6.2 crore, as per the latest market price.

“Departmental enquiry at highest level has been initiated in the said cases,” it said without giving further details.

The gold, in bullion or jewellery, seized from smugglers is kept in secure vaults inside the airport terminals.

The cases of mysterious disappearance of gold from the customs secure vaults are being regularly reported. The role of customs officials posted there has also come under scrutiny of the police and senior departmental officials, official sources said.

In June, the customs officials had lodged an FIR with the police to report disappearance of 11 kg of gold, worth Rs 2.92 crore, from its vault.

That gold was seized in five incidents from passengers who had allegedly tried to smuggle it via the international airport, they said.

The incident had come to light when packets containing the yellow metal, covered and sealed at the instance of courts, were opened before a departmental committee as part of inventory proceedings. 
A test revealed that the sealed material was not gold, the sources said.

In most of the cases, gold is being replaced with yellow-colour metal, they said.

“The role of insiders cannot be ruled out. Both the department and police are probing the matter,” a senior customs official said.

An FIR was filed last year too to probe similar instances of theft. Theft of gold from five packets had been reported to the police on January 16, 20, April 30 and December 23, 2014, as per the Delhi Police FIR.

In these cases also, gold worth lakhs of rupees was replaced by a yellow metal, it said. 
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