KATHMANDU, April 10: A pilot of the national flag carrier Nepal Airlines Cooperation (NAC) was arrested from Tribhuvan International Airport on Sunday while trying to smuggle undeclared US $ 93,600 out of the country. Senior captain of NAC Subarna Awale, 55, was arrested while he was on duty before he could fly an NAC plane to Dubai.
Nepal Police officials said that Captain Awale was arrested at around 11 pm during regular checkup. He was subsequently taken to the Metropolitan Police Circle, Gaushala for further investigation.
Awale is one of the senior pilots associated with the NAC. According to police officials, Awale told them during interrogation that he was carrying the cash to send it to his daughter in the USA via Dubai. Police said they are investigating whether Awale was telling the truth or working on behalf of others. They are also trying to find out his potential links with organized networks.
Smuggling of foreign currencies is a punishable offense in Nepal. The existing laws bar Nepali citizens from carrying more than US $ 5000. It is necessary to declare the source of the amount. Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Prem Chand said that Awale would remain in police custody for further investigation for some more days.
“We’ll send him to the Department of Revenue Investigation after completing our investigation,” said SP Chand. Nepal Police has described Awale’s arrest as major achievement in its efforts to dismantle the nexus of smugglers and government officials.
Awale is the latest government official to be arrested on smuggling charge. In the recent months, more than two dozen officials including immigration officials, police officials and airlines staff have been arrested on charge of gold smuggling and smuggling of foreign currencies through the country’s only international airport. On February, police had arrested SSP Shyam Khatri on charge of smuggling 38 kg of gold.