Gold worth Rs nine lakh goes missing from customs vault

New Delhi: Gold worth nearly Rs nine lakh seized from smugglers has mysteriously disappeared from customs vault at Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGIA) here, prompting the authorities to file a police case.

CBEC Chairman Najib Shah
CBEC Chairman Najib Shah

An FIR was registered recently by Delhi Police on the complaint of customs officials who said two gold chains and bangles, together weighing 298 gms, valued at about Rs 8.83 lakh, have been replaced with yellow-coloured non-precious metal.

The incident came to light when packets containing 1.27 kg gold, including the stolen gold chains and bangles, duly sealed at the instance of a court, were opened by the customs officials before a departmental committee as part of inventorisation proceedings.

“It appears that the contents i.e. two gold chains of primary gold total weighing 220 gms and four bangles of primary gold total weighing 78 gms were replaced with one rectangular slab (cuboid) of yellow metal (non-precious metal), which was not made of gold,” reads the FIR.

The FIR under Section 409 for criminal breach of trust by public servant and 120B (criminal conspiracy) was registered against unknown persons on June 15 at the IGIA police station.

“Police prima facie suspect it as an insider’s job but nothing can be ruled out as the matter is under investigation,” a senior official said.

It is not for the first time that gold has gone missing from the customs vault.

Over 23 kgs of gold worth more than Rs six crore had earlier gone missing from the customs warehouse, officials have said in response to an RTI query filed by PTI.

In June last year, the customs officials had lodged an FIR in connection with disappearance of 11 kg of gold worth Rs 2.92 crore from its vault. The gold was seized in five incidents from passengers at the international airport.

In most of these cases, gold was replaced with yellow-colour non-precious metal.

Another case was registered in 2014 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 in which gold worth lakhs of rupees was replaced by a yellow metal.

“All these cases, including the latest one, are identical in nature,” as per the FIR.