Gold is one of the most smuggled material in the world. Often people smuggle gold bullion to evade paying taxes when they move it to another country and like most contraband, it makes its way illegal in the most ingenious ways. Some people go as far as hiding it in uncomfortable body parts.
When hearing about a gold smuggling operation, you expect it to be ingenious and daring. Most people who travel to countries where gold is cheap, try to hide it in things like candy boxes, umbrellas, and other non-descript objects that won’t raise suspicion. We’ll, recently, three men were detained at O.R Tambo International Airport in South Africa for smuggling 162 pounds of gold in their carry-on luggage. Each guy carried about a third of the gold on him. That’s 54 pounds of gold per person. That’s a pretty hefty load that would be hard to miss. The gold was reported to be worth more than $4 million.
When questioned, the three suspects produced certification for the gold but they were detained on suspicion of money laundering. However, according to enforcement, charges of money laundering and fraud would be considered at a later stage.
Technically, there has been no crime committed yet, but the government can keep the gold until investigations uncover some crime that the three might have committed or might have been contemplating. Cops seize goods from people all the time but in this case, these three gentlemen might have just been trying to evade paying tax, not do anything nefarious like use it to buy a bunch of drugs or maybe these guys from Madagascar didn’t know any other way to transport their gold to a country like South Africa. This is probably as unlikely as it sounds. Who travels with that much gold and not know important things like that? The fact that they hid the gold means that were are aware that they would be put under serious scrutiny.
According to law enforcement agencies, gold is usually used in criminal enterprises as currency. Gold smuggling as a criminal enterprise ranks higher illicit cigarettes and cash and a little lower than illicit cigarettes and cash. Drugs exotic animals and fake designer bags rank higher. Law enforcement agencies are in talks with government officials in Dubai, Madagascar and Ethiopia to find out where the gold was from and to investigate where it was going and why the the suspects did not use the legal channels of transporting gold from one country to another.
Taking gold bullion from one country to another isn’t necessarily a criminal offence. It is regarded as “smuggling” if you attempt to hide it. Of course, you wouldn’t store your gold bullion in luggage that you check in at an airport. If you did, you would be risking getting your gold damaged due to the rough handling of bags at most airports or your gold could get stolen. Taking it in your carry-on luggage is the sensible thing to do. However, besides having the papers to prove that it is your gold that you are carrying, you should alert customs officials. You might have to show officials your gold in a private screening room but you should gladly do this if you haven’t broken any laws or plan to break any using the gold bullion you have carried across borders. You will have to sign a declaration form and you are obligated to pay taxes.