KATHMANDU, Jan 6: The Department of Customs and Airport Customs Office on Friday suspended as many as 29 officials in connection with the illegal gold intercepted from the Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) yesterday.
Meanwhile, the Custom Department has also formed a five-member probe panel led by Deputy General Director Suman Dahal in which Kulraj Gyawali, Tanka Pandey, a representative from the Ministry of Law and Punya Bikram Khadka are members.
With the 34 kg gold sized from the TIA yesterday, it has come to light that the gold is smuggled in cahoots with the custom office, security agencies and smugglers.
According to a highly placed source, high-ranking officials of Custom Department, Police Headquarters, Metropolitan Police Commissioner’s Office, Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Home Affairs are involved in the gold smuggling.
“We have started investigation into the case after suspending 29 officials,” Director General of the Custom Department Sishir Kumar Dhungana told Republica Online.
Similarly, Chief of Airport Custom Office Narayan Prasad Sapkota said that 29 officials from office assistant to under-secretary level have been suspended for investigation.
A team from the Central Investigation Bureau (CIB) of Nepal Police had arrested Gopal Bahadur Shahi,43, of Nepalgunj-13 of Banke, Dilbandhu Thapa of Pathari-4 of Morang and Santosh Kafle of Janakpur, Dhanusha with the 34 kg illegal gold.
The gold was in a form of 282 gold biscuits, 19 rings and 15 necklaces and was hidden in a false bottom of suitcases.
Acting on a tip-off, police arrested them while they were heading to Gaushala from Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) on a private car and a taxi.