On Saturday, 41 kgs of gold worth Rs. 12 crore was seized from a businessman in Kolkata by the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI).
The gold biscuits, which was seized from a flat in Beliaghata, was kept in an almirah. They arrested one person in this connection. The haul is the largest for the agency from a single person in Bengal so far.
A couple from Beliaghata was under the scanner of DRI for the past few weeks. Based on information from source, a ten member DRI team led by Vikram Meka, deputy director, raided the apartment on January 28. When they knocked on their third floor flat, a man in his mid-thirties opened the door and introduced himself as a small-time businessman. When the officers started searching the flat he tried to resist. They recovered 354 pieces of gold bars weighing 41 kgs during searches.
“There were a few wardrobes inside the bed room and after opening them we found some lockers inside them. On opening one of the lockers, we found that it was stacked with gold biscuits — bars of 24 carat purity. A total 354 pieces of gold biscuits were seized,” said an officer.
The businessman, Suman Saha (35), who recently moved into the apartment, was arrested. Saha owns a restaurant in Kankurgachi area on Kolkata. Earlier he used to own a cell phon shop near Sealdah station.
According to DRI sleuths Saha, though is an Indian citizens had his schooling in Bangladesh. Certificates of education found from his possession pointed out that he was originally a resident of Bangladesh.
The gold biscuits, DRI sources said, were supposed to be shipped to several destinations in Kolkata. Earlier, central investigating agencies raised concern over mushrooming of small artisan houses on the outskirts of the city. Many of these artisans procure gold illegally and make ornaments from them before sending it to different parts of the country.
During interrogation Saha claimed that he was just a keeper of the gold. A youth used to bring them to him for safekeeping and then later take it away. The biscuits seized on Saturday were brought from UAE to Bangladesh via air route and later sent to Kolkata through land routes. DRI missed the youth, yet unidentified, by a few minutes while they raided the apartment. Saha has been booked under section 104 of customs Act 1962.
All the gold bars had foreign inscriptions on them pointing at the origin of the metal. While some of the bars had Credit Suisse, Switzerland written on them, some had inscriptions of Al Etihad, Dubai.
In the past one month, DRI officers noticed a spike in large consignments of illegal gold entering the state.
After the demonetization announcement was made, there was a sudden spike in gold demand that created a glut in the gold market. While prices of the yellow metal fell in the international market over the past few weeks, the demand picked up in the country.
Last week, gold prices hit a two-week low while dollar started appreciating in international markets. This has further boosted the demand for the yellow metal prompting more import through illegal routes. Apart from the Myanmar route that operates through the north eastern states, the land route through Bangladesh has also become active.
Last year on August 2016, DRI seized 58 kgs of gold from Kolkata, but that was from a number of person, who was carrying it.