DoRI investigation reveals garment merchant Agarwal as official agent of illegal transactions in gold smuggling cases

Published On: February 10, 2024 09:30 AM NPT By: Tapendra Karki

KATHMANDU, Feb 10: The investigation of the Department of Revenue Investigation (DoRI) have revealed that Naresh Agarwal, a garment merchant who was arrested on charges of hundi transaction, is the official agent in facilitating payments related to the smuggling of 9 kg of gold from Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) and about 61 kg of gold intercepted outside the TIA premises.

The investigation based on call records and a gold weighing machine recovered from his residence revealed that he is associated with illegal transactions of gold smuggling. He was arrested by the DoRI with the help of the Intelligence Bureau of Armed Police Force on the night of January 17 from Chhetrapati. At that time, the team of the DoRI recovered Rs 2 million from his house along with USD 2000 and currencies of other countries. At the same time, a gold weighing machine was also recovered from his house.

After the DoRI intensified the investigation, he was suspected to be involved in a range of illicit practices including money laundering, illegal transactions, gold smuggling, and hundi operations. The director general of the DoRI, Nabraj Dhungana, said, “An in-depth investigation is being conducted on him after his connection with cryptocurrency transactions.”

"He is being investigated for involvement in money laundering, illegal transactions, gold smuggling, hundi transactions," Dhungana said. "We are suspicious that he is also involved in cryptocurrency transactions," Dhungana added.

According to the officers involved in the investigation, Agarwal was found to have conducted transactions worth millions of rupees within a single day, even on the day of his arrest.

According to a DoRI source, it is seen that cryptocurrency transactions may have been done to transfer the funds. "He has been found to be dealing with Chinese national Li Hansong Lu," said the source. Both of them were involved in the smuggling of 9 kg of gold from the TIA in mid-December last year and about 61 kg of gold recovered by the DoRI itself.

Furthermore, DoRI believes that Agarwal has maintained detailed records of gold origins and quantities. It appears that Agarwal has good influence over the administrative and security agencies of Nepal. Although the DoRI had previously received information about Agarwal, lack of evidence prevented immediate action.

The DoRI obtained information indicating that Agarwal and his group had paid for the gold recovered from outside the TIA. However, they failed to gather sufficient evidence at the time. Later, with the assistance of the Armed Police Force, they recovered a gold weighing machine during the arrest, along with the evidence.

"The DoRI source reported that they have also found other evidence of his dealings," stated Dhungana, the director general of the DoRI, who further admitted that all gold smuggled through Nepal is paid via Hundi.

Director General Dhungana said, "Upon examining Agarwal's transactions, it appears that the payments for smuggled gold were made through Hundi and Cryptocurrency, but the DoRI's investigation is ongoing." Additionally, investigation has revealed a connection between Daojin Wang, a Chinese citizen involved in the group smuggling gold in electronic cigarettes (Vape), and the individuals linked to the 61 kg of gold.

Through the ongoing investigation, DoRI has observed the involvement of three Chinese nationals in smuggling 61 kg of gold. Yao Pucheng, identified as 'Alex,' along with Li Wen Sung and Zhiquan Lin, known as 'Ali,' have been implicated in the smuggling operation. DoRI sources indicate that Agarwal's contacts and transactions were also linked with these individuals.

According to information from DoRI sources, Agarwal and his son Abhishek Agarwal used their bank accounts for transactions. An officer of the DoRI said that Abhishek Agrawal is currently absconding.

According to the official, India’s revenue investigation department arrested Abhishek Agrawal and later released him after imposing a fine. The official stated that Agrawal was involved in illegal business activities in India as well. Even Agrawal's business activities in Nepal are suspicious.

“The DoRI is investigating him in connection with three illegal transactions: hundi, gold, and cryptocurrency. He can be detained for 60 days for investigation. Therefore, we are probing his involvement in all types of illegal transactions," said Dhungana, director general of the DoRI.

According to the investigation officer of the DoRI, all payments were made through the USDT, a cryptocurrency stablecoin pegged to the US dollar, as per the details retrieved from the mobile phone seized at the time of arrest. The officer said that USDT was utilized for cryptocurrency transactions in Nepal.

He was also allegedly involved in sending money to Indian citizens in Nepal through Hundi, under the guise of a garment trade. He had set up separate counters in Kuleshwar and Balkhu for this purpose. However, payments to the Chinese citizens were made from his residence only.

"An in-depth investigation is being done on the matter," said a DoRI source. Sources claim that Indian businessmen trust him and send money because gold is smuggled to India from various points in China through Nepal.

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